It’s massively underrated, kindness.
Most of us are inherently kind, we support each other and share the good stuff, we extend this to our social media interactions too.
We comment kindly on a post which highlights unfolding tragedies of the people we follow because we empathise, because we have all needed love, kindness and support at one time or another.
Take the suicide of Caroline Flack recently, who herself extolled the need for kindness, so many of us were saddened by that, but however tragic, celebrities live apart from us and sadly we soon forget and move on.
So, what about those everyday people we connect with on social media.
The people we have connected with because we share interests or feel drawn to them. Can we be honest about the level of friendship we may have become involved in or because this friendship is an online one, is it easier for us to step away and not take it seriously?
Obviously, it depends upon the depth of involvement, as with any relationship we invest in, but where social media is concerned, a lack of physical contact may make it simpler to think it’s not that important, after all, it doesn’t necessarily impact upon our day for many reasons.
My social media usage is restricted to Instagram, I’m quite passionate about the friendships I’ve made there, I treat them as seriously as I do my personal ones. I’ve met up with some of these people, have plans to meet more and talked deeply about many things with others.
Evidence suggests that most of us have made strong friendships through social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram, and for those who cannot get out these sites are godsends.
But how seriously do we actually take these friendships, how loyal to someone we’ve never met can we realistically be?
The downside to social media is, of course, the amount of trolling and bullying that occurs.
Most recently I’ve witnessed a flurry of unkindness as we become enmeshed in the Coronavirus pandemic, people openly hurling downright discriminatory words aimed at others whom they feel are responsible for the spread of a virus, which ironically isn’t choosy about where it lands. Witness the latest Coronavirus news sites on YouTube and the vitriol there, it makes for uncomfortable reading especially as I fall into a high-risk group because of age and health issues.
So we are back to people who sit at a keyboard and deliberately set out to destroy someone’s day with a neatly placed hate-filled comment.
We all know the old adage of ‘what someone says, says more about them than you’ but the hurt, sadness and betrayal left behind can be devastating.
Someone who has become a close friend on Instagram has recently received the most incredible amount of abuse and hate posts, all because she is showcasing the journey of her overweight cat! An innocent enough topic which has led to increasingly cruel comments which began to get personal as she herself became the target of very unpleasant bullying.
I’m not sure why people feel safe enough to snipe away at someone they’ve never met, aren’t likely to and have no knowledge of, the protection of a keyboard clearly provides them with an identity they lack in everyday life.
Social media bullying is real, it doesn’t just happen to younger people or celebrities, we are all at risk, it’s as though some people have lost sight of the fact that all of us know what hurt feels like, in truth what any of us say to others, even on a social media site, can radically change what they do next and not always in a good way.
I don’t know what the answer is, reporting the latest round of bullying got my friend cautioned as the bully said she’d been ‘picked on’ so we have to wonder who is listening and taking it seriously.
Keyboard warriors are desperate for you to fight back, and as much as sometimes ignoring them can feel like defeat, it does help to understand that these people are often insecure and have so much bitterness stored up just waiting to spill from their fingers.
It’s important not to feed the trolls.
And it’s also important to know that we can disagree with someone without resorting to cruelty and unkindness, healthy debate is a dying art it seems, it needs kindness to step in and rescue it.
So in this increasingly hostile world let’s remember this:
“If we can’t be kind, what on earth is it we think we have to be?”
Follow Rosa Goodridge on Instagram EnglishRose56