I went for groceries this morning, and choose the tiny cart. You know the one, it’s less than half the size of a regular cart? I only needed a few things, of course, so the tiny cart would be fine. And it’s easier to steer, and navigate around the people blocking the aisles while they browse the canned soup and chat about their children. Good choice.
And then I filled four grocery bags, plus. The tiny cart was overflowing. And pushing through the parking lot, one bag tipped toward me, hit the ground, and I tripped over it. Yep. Inevitable.
A man walking by called out with a grin “don’t worry, no one saw that!” I laughed and answered, “that will be viral on YouTube in about two hours, right?”
Which would have been funny. Except I started thinking about the potential ensuing 5,000 comments.
“She shouldn’t be out in public in yoga pants.”
“Look at her weight, she shouldn’t have bought so much food in the first place.”
late Middle English: from Latin necessarius, from necesse ‘needful’
determined, existing, or happening by natural laws or predestination; inevitable
required to be done, achieved, or present; needed; essential
I’m a little over-sensitive, I know, so it’s very easy for me to imagine a barrage of trolls descending on me just for daring to buy too much bread and cheese. Which is part of the reason I’m always reminding my children: is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?
Needful. Inevitable. Required.
Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions. But are we entitled to always share them? Has humanity lost its filters entirely, or has it always been this way?
- A quick browse of internet comments on news articles is horrifying.
- Jimmy Kimmel has an entire regular segment on mean tweets.
- Unilever recently decided to scale back on advertising on social networks due to the proliferation of hate, propaganda, “toxic online content.”
- Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy launched a tutorial for teachers titled “Facing Online Hate,” – a subject that’s cropped up in school systems worldwide in recent years.
Now, let’s be clear. Kind does not equal nice. We don’t need to just smile and nod, although that would be nice of us. We can tell someone how it is, just do it kindly and respectfully. We should always be true. Speak your truth, listen to other people’s truth. Defend yourself when you feel attacked or marginalized. But when someone suggests that you might have the facts backwards, take a seat and listen.
Then, is it necessary? Maybe there is a wrong that truly needs to be corrected. Or maybe we are being cruel for sport. Defensive, because we don’t like hearing that we might be misinformed. Embarrassed, because we misbehaved and got called out on it. Cue backlash.
Too many, however, seem to fall into the “cruel for sport” category. They stir the pot, deliberately spreading garbage just for the fun of getting a reaction. These are the digital bullies. This group needs retraining. So I’m advocating for a reporting system that results in mandatory attendance at a quality preschool to relearn qualities of basic decency: politeness, sharing, no name-calling, taking turns, listening. THIS is needful, needed, essential. Necessary.
More about online decency and kindness: