I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day while in between meetings at work and something caught my attention. The song lyrics by Brad Paisley that say “I’m so much cooler online” instantly popped into my head. I often wonder if people truly think that of themselves. I follow a few different news stations on different social media sites and I am honestly amazed and ashamed of some of the things people feel is okay to write behind the safety of their computer.
The feed that caught my eye was a news story about a man in need of a transplant who refused to take the organ of a man in prison for murder. The reason the story stated was because that man didn’t want the inmate to get any positive press or publicity for this act of kindness. Now I don’t necessarily agree with his decision, but I was appalled by the responses this post started to receive.
I’m not going to repost the comments that people made, because I don’t want to acknowledge or give any more publicity to their behavior. I will, for the sake of this post, explain a few of them. I saw several stating that they hope this man die before he receives a transplant since he must not need it all that badly. Others criticizing his decision and calling him a bad father because of it. The comments went on and on. I had to stop reading them after a while because just when I thought I had seen the worst, another was posted.
What gives these individuals the right to make this decision for this man? Whether or not I agree with him, I would never wish that someone would die, or that he would never get a transplant based on this decision. These are grown adults commenting on a public news station’s Facebook page. If these same things were said about a teenager, especially their teenagers, I’m sure they would have a very different outlook on the comments. Does technology make us feel so disconnected from the people on the other side of the computer screen that we no longer think of them as individuals? Is that why grown adults think it’s okay to pass judgment publicly and posts horrible comments about individuals online?
I’ve read several articles that discuss the differences in communication styles today from twenty years ago. We’ve converted from snail mail to the instant gratification of emails, text messages, and tweets. We no longer have to wait hours or days for responses, but can have complete conversation over interwebs. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I think it has changed the way we process things, as well as our communication styles.
I think back to when I was a pre-teen. If I ever wanted to talk to a boy I liked or had any fights with a friend, it was much easier to write how I was feeling in a note than to say it to their face. Entire grade school relationships were had over passing notes in school and smiling at someone in the hallway. This same mentality is true with the growth of technology. Because we don’t have to look someone in the face to insult them, make fun of them or have an argument, we are much bolder and perhaps far more honest or mean than people used to be. With all of the press around cyber bulling, it seems to focus more on teenagers and the affects it has on youth. But it seems that adults may be just as guilty of bullying others are their teenagers.
The age-old idea, treat others as you wish to be treated seems to have been forgotten. When we post things on social media sites or comment on blogs, there are people at the other end that read what you’re writing. I urge you to remember that it doesn’t matter whether or not you will ever meet the individual on the other end, they have feelings and it isn’t our place to judge their decisions. How would you feel if you read the comment or response you are giving someone? While technology makes it easier to comment in seconds and minimizes the amount of face-to-face interaction, let us not forget that no matter the form, we are communicating with another person, not just a computer.