“A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.” - Oscar Wilde
My social media feed was filled with posts on a contentious subject. Both sides of the political spectrum were accusing the other of not taking them seriously. People had created memes using cool graphics and witty wording.
Posts built upon posts, until all the arguments looked silly. I started to do my own research on the subject. Thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to reach back decades, and then centuries. The more I learned, the sillier the current situation seemed.
After some thought, I came up with a witty (in my eyes) retort and an appropriate image to go along. I looked at my creation and laughed. I knew that after posting it, most of my friends would laugh, some would share on their own timelines, and some would be hurt.
Wait. Some would be hurt? That doesn’t sound good.
The more I considered what I’d drafted, the more I realized that many people would be offended, if not hurt. They had sincere beliefs on the topic and might take my post as a direct attack on them personally. Some people I knew only through online connections, while others were friends I’ve met, broken bread with, and known for years. All were considerate individuals, and I had no reason to mock them.
I didn’t post the joke.
In my last post, I wrote about being careful of the negativity that we absorb. It’s just as important to be careful about the negativity we spread – intentionally or unintentionally.
When we decide to share something, we need to consider the consequences. Imagine the reaction of people in your life if you made the same comment to their face. Think about how you would feel if you saw the hurt in their eyes. Because that’s the expression they’re making while looking at their screens.
For the people wanting to shout – “That’s just political correctness!” or “People are too sensitive!” – I ask that you take a moment an consider the last time you were insulted or belittled – by a friend. Not the good-natured jabs with no ill will, but by someone intentionally trying to cause you pain. It’s not a good feeling.
Every day, we have the opportunity to impact the people around us. Because of social media, that impact can be spread around the world at the speed of light. Before hitting the “post” button, we should consider not only our intentions, but others’ perceptions.