I got a lot of flak for my Yom Kippur blog. People telling me how inappropriate it was, telling me how horrible of a writer I am and how I was just a whiny, bitter person who would most likely die alone. One even wrote me a long email about how shallow, arrogant and self absorbed I was based not only on a blog but on my Facebook statuses which was confusing in itself. I guess I should stop posting about my love of shopping and looking pretty. Hashtag…sarcasm with a smile?
I really wish I could be upset. I wish I could shed a tear and offer an apology which is my go-to but I can’t. The girl who apologizes for everything, can’t apologize for this. I struck a nerve and there was something so interesting about the amount of hatred I received. I was amused more than upset. So if my words hit that hard, hard enough to make people have such strong reactions that they reacted with hate filled messages that just made me shake my head. Instead of being hurt, I was truly amazed.
I was amazed at how comfortable people are at attacking people behind a computer screen. When did it become okay to viciously attack strangers through social media? Jimmy Kimmel has a brilliant segment on his show called, “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” and celebrities read horrible things that so-called fans have tweeted them. When did that become the norm? Insulting strangers, saying things that we would never say face to face and most of the time people consider that under the guise of “constructive criticism”.
All the attacks I received were under that same guise of “constructive criticism”. The very definition of constructive criticism is to help, it’s a method of communication in order to help someone improve. Good constructive criticism always begins with positive reinforcement, telling someone what they’re doing right and then the critique should contain “I” statements. People seem to be confusing criticism with constructive criticism and I wonder if social media has a play in that. Criticism is negative, constructive criticism is not. Calling some a name, telling them that they are just awful on all the levels is not constructive in the least. It’s bullying, plain and simple. Those Celebrity Mean Tweets, the negative comments on someone’s character or ability is bullying and to be very honest, the extreme negative I received just reinforced the point I was making in the first place.
Once again, has social media made us meaner? Made us more willingly to bully? Whether it’s through email or Facebook or any other form of on-line communication, when did treating each other cruelly become okay or become confused with constructive criticism. In no way is calling someone pathetic or desperate or sad…..constructive. Especially not constructive when told behind a screen, that almost makes it seem rather cowardly.
Instead of the hate, why not show true constructive criticism? Why not try to understand the point of view of someone else instead of dismissing them completely? I don’t understand the point of insulting through online means except that it’s there for the person you directed the hatred at to obsess over and read, chipping away at their self esteem and making them want to react defensively or if you’re a celebrity, make fun of it on Kimmel.
So if social media has made us meaner or made us less capable of communicating effectively, how do we combat it? How do we express what we feel without accusations? How do we not let the harsh words make us crumble? Maybe surrounding ourselves with people whose opinions who matter? Maybe understanding that what is being said through Twitter, Facebook, etc, can be taken in a particular way that you may not have intended? At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My opinions are just that. They’re mine and they aren’t hurting anyone. To disagree with an opinion is fine, but to verbally attack or discount an opinion as inappropriate or shallow or arrogant is not. I’m not going to apologize for my words because they hurt no one.
At the end of the day, maybe we each need to find our own way of combating cruelty on-line. Some just deactivate from social media, but I’m not sure I can go that far yet. My favorite critique was I needed to atone for my bad writing skills. That just made me laugh. So that is what I’m going to do….combat social media cruelty by atoning for my bad writing skills if that makes any sense. I think I will do that by doing the one thing I think I know how to do….write.