Kindness. Is it fucking extinct?
I’ve been pondering this for a while now. As the world becomes more and more “connected” with social media and instant gratification – in the form of internet videos and news as soon as a thing happens because there’s a cell phone in every hand – I can see our ability to handle different points of view eroding. And when we lose our shit, we aren’t kind.
Everyone has become an armchair expert/critic/judge and jury about every, single cause they decide to take up. Because we have become so used to instant information, we feel qualified to expound on a subject because hey…we Googled it first.
This is where that ability to cope with different opinions comes in. And people, let me tell you: patience may be a virtue, but it is no longer an admirable quality anyone looks for. It used to be said that one should “count to ten” or “retreat, until calmer heads prevail.” Some of us still practice that. I’ll admit, I am woefully, meagerly, miserly with my patience because I was not adequately equipped from birth, but I think that my ability to remember to be kind is the filter that keeps me from blowing up my entire damned world.
For an increasingly large number of the population, this is not so.
Don’t like what someone wrote? Boom. Put them on blast. You’re just “saying what everyone else is afraid to say,” right? It “had to be said.”
But, did it? And, were you kind?
While I can provide examples from snapshots of most social media sites, be it Twitter or Facebook or even the comments section of any YouTube video, I’m going to use my own social interactions from just yesterday. I said that this has been a subject rolling around in my head for a while, but yesterday provided a couple of catalysts to actually get my fingers typing.
Here, for instance, is something I think a lot of us (who have darkly vicious senses of humor and who try like hell to represent ourselves authentically in our virtual, social lives) have had happen: you post a meme that might be a tad “blue” but is simply hilarious. You post it because you laughed out loud when you saw it, and laughing just feels good, doesn’t it? Why not give that gift of feeling good to others? I mean, they are your friends; they know you, right? They know you would never be maliciously, willfully awful.
A lot of your friends react the way you did, with laughter. But then, there creeps in that one person with a 2×4 up their ass who thinks it’s “just horrifying” and “OMG this just makes me sick”. (Insert my eyes rolling all the way back to August of 2017.) Others come to your defense, but now the self-proclaimed “social justice warriors” for whatever the subject – let’s just use “the long-term mental effects that writing on a passed-out person’s face with a Sharpie, and taking a photo which you then post online, can have” as the subject for this exercise – start coming out of the woodwork.
Admittedly, your upwards of 300 friends on this social media site may be peripheral, at best. You may have friended each other back in the days of Farmville so you could send each other Farmville shit. Remember those days? “Mary needs bags of corn to feed her chickens” or whatever; I honestly forget. (I do wonder if all my crops died and if my animals decided to become free-range because I stopped going back to feed them and yes, I have guilt.) You might have both joined a fan group for a band, or actor. The point is, you aren’t friends, really. If you have never held a single conversation with them on a personal level, how can you possibly be? How can they possibly know that you shared that meme in order to spread that feel-good gift of laughter; a chuckle, a giggle, a belly laugh?
As the critics begin the evisceration of your character, and ask you why you have such poor taste, you find yourself having to defend that innocent moment of indulgent generosity you had.
“It’s just a funny photo.” (Not to Karen it isn’t!)
“Anyone who knows me knows that I would never condone writing ‘Will strip for drinks’ on my passed-out mother-in-law’s forehead at a wedding reception because nobody needs to see that.” Except guess what? Karen and Donald don’t really know you, except to know that you had a really large farm back in the day, and Donald is still in therapy over that frat party he got hammered at 20 years ago where someone drew a dick on his cheek after he puked and passed out underneath a table.
One minute you’re spreading infectious belly laughs and sunshine, and the other, you’re having to defend your character to some douchebag who may like Pantera as much as you do but who feels it is their moral imperative to tell you that you are a terrible person. I’m sorry, but it had to be said.
There is no kindness in their actions that I can see. Even that one, mealy-mouthed friend who decides to mediate because she took a Psychology class in high school isn’t being kind when she interjects, “I know you meant well, but you just don’t understand that this photo could trigger anxiety in someone who had ‘Fuck Boi’ written on his forehead at Summer Camp in 1982.” Shut the fuck up, Jessica. You only got a C in that Psychology class, anyway. Why can’t these people just scroll on by? That’s being kind, or maybe just being mindful of another person’s individuality, isn’t it?
Okay. Read the above comment and tell me that this isn’t a person’s passive-aggressive way of saying
I have never, ever read that phrase any different way. It is always used a reply to someone’s criticism of a person’s remarks in a debate. To me, it positively reeks of “I can’t think of anything else authoritative to say in reply to you and I’m fucking pissed, but since I’m on Facebook at work, posting my anti-vaxxer beliefs instead of doing my job, I have be careful of telling you that I hope you get the fucking Plague from that booster shot and that rats eat your face.”
Have the kind of day you deserve! You know, at the bottom of a ravine after a fiery car crash with every bone in your body broken!
The bottom line is that the people who use this phrase are assholes. There’s no other conclusion. Certainly, they’re disguising their self-righteous Assholiness as a false positive, but those of us who are okay with being an asshole as long as it comes from a genuine place see right through that.
Yesterday, I casually pointed this out on a thread and was promptly warned to “back off”.
I was then told that this was a phrase the writer uses for “everyone” and that I am “not special”. Believe me.
While I was absolutely devastated that this person who had never met me didn’t know just how special I really am, I reminded myself that this Asshole didn’t know how to be truly kind, but I did. I could have taken her out with a carefully crafted miasma of words that would have left no doubt as to what I thought of her inability to recognize my special qualities and to award me my own, personal
and then left her with a
but I refrained.
I was being kind. Instead of again blowing her theory, that she supported with tons of Google citations, that if you are in the same room as a person who gets a vaccine, any vaccine, your kid will get autism, I let it be.
Do any of you know how hard that was? Well, anyone who knows me knows how hard that was for me.
By the way, since we’re all such great friends, could you please send me lives for Candy Crush? Playing that game is the only way I assuage my terrible guilt about abandoning my Farmville farms, all three of them: my first one, the Christmas one, and the one in Martha’s Vineyard. I despair, in particular, at the deaths of all those candy canes and fruit cakes I was growing at my Christmas farm.
Thanks. You’re all so kind.