How to Be Kind on the Internet:
Yesterday I made some people angry at me on social media, and it got me to thinking about kindness on the internet. So here are some principles that I think are important:
- Be careful little fingers what you type. Kindness is hard, but retracting unkindness is even harder. Think/breathe/relax before you grab a pitchfork.
- Just because someone says something uncool on the internet, doesn't mean you have to respond to it. You are not the Final Arbiter of Justice. You are not the one who has to Make All Things Right.
- Don't waste too much energy trying to be perfect. First, because you'll fail and everyone will laugh at you and second, because humility is awesome. Be quick to admit when you've made a mistake. If you've hurt someone's feelings, apologize for that right away. You didn't have to mean to hurt their feelings―heck, at this point there's probably not much you could say on the internet that won't hurt somebody's feelings―but the kind thing is still to apologize that their feelings got hurt and that you had something to do with it, even peripherally. By then the internet lynch mobs might have found you and you'll have lost your job and your home and your car, but hey... you're a champ in my book.
- At the same time, don't be so afraid of hurting someone's feelings that you won't ever tell anyone what you think. Your voice is important! Share it (kindly)!
- If someone hurts your feelings, tell them right away. Don't let it simmer, and don't make it about the thing they said that hurt your feelings. Chances are fantastic that they had no intentions of hurting your feelings at all! So just tell them that the specific thing they said hurt your feelings, and leave it at that. If they apologize, be gracious about it.
- If the person who hurt your feelings is not a safe person and you know that about them and you know they won't be kind and will use your vulnerability against you... cut ties. Life is too short to waste it on being hurt repeatedly on the internet by people you can just as easily avoid.