Keys to Being Social: The Golden Rule

Don't hide behind the internet to be a troll. Be kind. Kindness will come back to you.
Bridget Willard

Who remembers first grade? Among stretching exercises, snack time, recess, and learning to read with Dick & Jane there was a sign, way, way high up on the classroom wall.

The Golden Rule:

“Do Unto Others As You Would Have them Do Unto You.”

Do you remember that?

Is it taught anymore?

Lately it seems like the internet doesn’t embrace this basic axiom of human relations.

Even Ted Rubin started a Twitter account to remind people to Just be Nice.

A Word on Kindness

Kindness is the bonding agent that allows two people with diverse interests and opinions to become and remain friends. It’s such a simple, basic concept. It’s a wonder that we forget.

Yet, our fast-paced society with blue-backlit screens has perhaps de-sensitized us. Have we been stripped of our sense of propriety and manners in the name of authenticity? Has “keeping it real” been an excuse for brutal honesty? At what point does this cyber bullying break down all meaningful communication?

In “How We’re Talking, Like Today” (1/23/14) from On Point with Tom Ashbrook, the panel discusses verbal tee-ups. Essentially, we give ourselves permission to be rude with phrases like “To be honest,” “just sayin'” and “bless her heart.”

Maybe Derek Sivers is right. Maybe being behind a computer dehumanizes us to the point that we forget who is on the other side.

“At the end of every computer is a real person, a lot like you.” Derek Sivers

You, too, can be a jerk.

Yep. I screwed up, too.

I was talking to a pal a few months back and thought Scott Stratten’s UnPodcast was too long. Though a fan, (read 2 of his books, attended a live event, read his blog, etc.) I had hoped it would be shorter and more easily consumable.

I tweeted that, not thinking he might have a search setup for “UNPodcast” and he called me out on it.

He was right to do so. I apologized and learned a valuable lesson that day. He actually has some good advice on how to deal with “trolls,” too.

It’s very easy to engage in light criticism to smack talk to outright name calling on social media because it seems like it will never come back to us. But people search for their names, they have friends, and Google alerts. It could come back to you. Would knowing that make a difference? It did for me.

If you go looking for trouble…

It was an ordinary day, yesterday. But my WordPress app told me my stats were heating up. Excited, I clicked to my stats and saw that my post “Why I Don’t Use Twitter’s Retweet Button” had gotten lots of hits but my mentions column in Twitter was dry. Curious, and wanting to thank the person who shared my post, I did an advance search in Twitter for the post’s url.

I found this:

Which lead me to this:

https://twitter.com/DesaiDevang/status/428176915623448576

And my mind was blown. “Monster?” Wow.

Not only was this person not following me, nor I him, he didn’t know me.

It was as if my post told people to kill their childhood dog or burn their deceased grandpa’s baseball card collection.

First I was mad. Then hurt. Then I began to doubt. Did I tell people they were doing something wrong? Was I too offensive? But the truth is that when you take a position, you will, by default, have dissenters.

Having extra time, I decided to engage. Under the premise that a “soft answer turns away wrath,” I replied saying that the term seemed harsh but thanked him for tweeting my post.

Monster Tweet

And one tweet led me to another which led to another.

And then one of my tweets from March of 2013 got some responses. Like this one:

http://twitter.com/BACKofTURKEY/status/428221816356614144

(4/20/15 looks like it was deleted)

After a series of back and forth, he backed down a bit saying that I was an okay person.

http://twitter.com/BACKofTURKEY/status/428256820495265793

(4/20/15 looks like it was deleted)

Was it a waste of time? Maybe.

I probably shouldn’t have “fed the trolls” but maybe using a soft answer is a way to be truly authentic by showing people that I’m not a computer, I’m a real person, with the intention of answering a question or clarifying an accusation.

Is kindness a quality that is so far removed from our society that we bash random people guilt-free?

Your Thoughts

What do you think?

Am I wrong?

Sound off in the comment section or send me a tweet at @YouTooCanBeGuru.

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