If you’ve ever shared a meme or Facebook post that includes the words “you are part of the problem,” chances are pretty good that you are part of the problem.
I’m sure I’m guilty of that at some point, however, I make it a personal policy to not share mean and hurtful (hateful?) things on social media, specifically Facebook. I have other social media accounts, but Facebook is the one I use the most. I have a bi-polar love-hate relationship with it, but like an abused spouse I can’t seem to pull away from it.
I have more than 1,000 friends on Facebook, but I bet I’ve unfollowed or snoozed about half of them because of all the nasty stuff they keep sharing. Most of it has to do with hating the media (hey, that’s me!), or just the lies, hatred, and flat-out meanness of their posts.
I highly doubt that most people realize that by sharing such things they are engaging in cyberbullying. Even if what they are sharing is correct (or at least is in line with their beliefs or political persuasion), just the simple act of sharing it is in itself vile and divisive. It doesn’t help anyone. As I said earlier, if the post has the words “you are part of the problem,” then the post itself is derogatory and a form of bullying. This needs to stop!
I realize at this point that some of you might be getting ready to hit back at me with the whole First Amendment free speech spiel but hear me out. I’m not saying you shouldn’t exercise your right to free speech or free expression, I’m simply calling for civility, decency, fairness, and honesty.
Before sharing or posting anything on any social media platform, ask yourself a few simple questions. I like to see if it passes the four-way test of the Rotary Club: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better relationships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? If the answer is no to any of those four questions, then don’t do it.
If that isn’t enough of a filter, ask yourself if you would say that to your mother or grandmother. You could also ask yourself “what would Jesus do?” Also, would you say it face-to-face with each person you are trying to reach? At the very least I bet you’d tone down the rhetoric or at least clean up the language.
This brings us to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you don’t want people lying or saying terrible things to you, then please don’t do it to them. If you feel so compelled to talk politics, try to avoid tearing down the other side and instead use positive, persuasive terms to build up your side. Rather than bashing the other party or candidate, promote your own.
The same thing applies to debates over masks and shutting down businesses to combat COVID-19. You’re not going to convince anyone that it’s right or wrong to wear masks if you’re calling them a moron for doing or not doing so. The only thing you’ll succeed at is making a jerk of yourself and losing friends and/or respect.
I could go on with many other examples, but I want to go back to the 2016 election for a minute. Does anyone recall the news about how Russian bots were generating inflammatory social media posts with the intent to influence the outcome of the election? Has it occurred to anyone that bots might be doing the same thing again? I’m not saying they are, but I think it’s well within the realm of possibility.
In addition to the aforementioned questions, I ask that before sharing a post on social media that you please consider its source. Is it from someone you know (and not just shared by them)? Is the root source a trusted person or media site? Is the information factual and presented in a positive tone, or is it only partly true or just a headline or photo that gets you fired up?
Before sharing a click-bait headline, have you actually read the article or watched the video it takes you to? Quite often headlines online are misleading or have nothing to do with the story. Most people are not going to bother to check the link before sharing it. Don’t be that person. Don’t be part of the problem. Let’s work to be the solution and put the “social” back in social media.