For an absolutely adorable act of kindness, just click above.
Lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about kindness, or, perhaps, more to the point: the lack thereof.
No, what I’ve actually been thinking about is unkindness.
I know anyone can be worried, anxious, preoccupied, lost in thought and seem unkind in a moment of inattention, but those are distractions never deliberate acts of unkindness or aggression. They are simply careless and impersonal instants, no offense intended.
I’m talking about the mean spirited lashing out from one stranger to another in the safe haven of anonymity on social media.
There is a lot of chatter about trolls, but that’s another subject entirely, a different type of vitriol. No, what I’m referring to are the nasty comments, the cutting criticisms, the judging of another based on assumptions, vile prejudices. And, the thing is, it’s almost impossible to avoid being exposed to these affronts.
Those of us who have blogs are clearly putting ourselves out there for criticism and I think we should be prepared for it. Criticism, whether negative or positive, can be interesting and constructive. I think we should be grateful that someone took the time to add another point of view.
Why should everyone who reads us agree with us? The same thing goes for books, magazine and newspaper articles, photographs, art. . . Once in the public domain one must accept the consequences — to a certain degree.
But, then again, if someone doesn’t like an opinion or a subject or the way something has been expressed, I can’t help but wonder why that someone can’t begin a conversation within the criticism and at the very least attempt to be civil.
Do the harsh and sometimes cruel critics wish to hurt the object of their unkindness rather than be constructive? Do they forget that there is a real person on the receiving end? Do they take pleasure in being unkind? And, if so, why?
Mostly, I’ve been fortunate not to have been subjected to unpleasantness in this space, but I think many of us see it all around us when we wander out into cyberspace.
As you have probably ascertained, I’ve ventured off into one of my stream of consciousness reveries. It was set off by a series of exceedingly nasty comments left on a Huffington Post piece that was meant to be sweet and funny. (On a personal note, and just to keep this conversation on the up-and-up, I was also upset by something someone wrote about me recently.)
Which brings me to the question, and the point of my rambling: If civility is on the wane, what is the future of empathy?