How do you behave when you can be completely anonymous? The internet can shield us from face-to-face contact, and for many people that can lead to snark….or worse. As Glennon Doyle Merton points out, the internet itself is neutral. We bring to it what we are. We get out of it what we seek:
The internet is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral—it becomes for each of us exactly what we bring to it. In our real life and our internet life, we live inside whatever we build. Since we are spending more and more of our lives online, our internet selves must be decent, courageous healers so we can inhabit communities of tolerance and humanity.
Here are a few gut checks:
1. Remember, you are what you post.
Integrity means there is not a real-life you and an internet you. The two are one and the same. If you’re not kind on the internet, you’re not kind.
2. Post with intention.
Before you hit send, ask yourself: Why am I sharing this picture, meme, idea, article? Is your true motivation to spread joy, encourage, enlighten, teach? Or is it to brag? To shame someone? If your intention is pure, then the response will be, too.
3. Dispense compassion.
When people express opinions that differ from yours, take it as a chance to grow. Seek to understand over being understood. Be curious, not defensive. The only way to disarm another human being is by listening.
For those of us with Facebook feeds who follow sites other than just friends and family, we can choose whether we follow fake news or hateful sites. Instead, we can choose sites that help expand our knowledge and compassion. Our feeds are like gardens we can choose how to plant.
And we always have a choice of whether we want to pass on snark, or hate, or false information, or sarcasm. Whether we want to pile on a mob mentality of attack and destruction.
We can choose to make our responses to other people’s posts measured and kind, to rely on facts rather than innuendo, and to simply not respond. We can help build the type of world we want to see, right here on the internet.