Is Social Media Making Us Extra Cruel?

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If you’re like me, Facebook (or Instagram, or Twitter, or whatever you use) is a blessing and a curse. It’s such a blessing to be able to keep in touch with family and friends. But, it can be a curse at the same time causing extra drama and a time-wasting addiction. The curse I want to address in particular is that our ability for cruelty tends to rise on social media.

The keyboard is a funny thing. You can type something you want to say without having to look the person in the eye to say it. Something is truly lost when you take the face to face element out of a conversation, and sometimes the biggest losses are compassion, empathy, and manners. Mothers shame each other for making different choices, strangers call people disgusting and ugly, and dissenters are told that they don’t deserve to live. What. Is. Wrong. With. People???

Do you remember when Harambe the gorilla was killed after a 3-year-old boy fell in his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo? (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/harambe-gorilla-killed-cincinnati-zoo-had-pay-price-experts-n583146) The outrage was unbelievable. I understand being sad that Harambe had to be killed, but instead of being thankful with the family that the boy survived, they hurled insult after insult (even threatening the lives of the family members) – all behind the veil of their keyboard. I wonder if they could’ve looked into the face of that worried mother as she watched her toddler being tossed around by that gorilla and told her she was irresponsible and didn’t even deserve to be a mother – or if they would’ve been horrified with her and wanted any measure possible taken to save him.

Contrast this with the story of Baby Jessica in 1987 (http://www.biography.com/people/baby-jessica-17175736) – before the internet had invaded our lives and when the only social experience you could get was in person or on the phone. Jessica’s mother, Cissy, left her and four other children unsupervised for a brief moment to answer a phone call. During that short time, Jessica fell into a well. If that had happened today, people would be storming Facebook, demanding that Cissy be charged with a felony or, at the very least, lose custody of her children. But, here’s what actually happened: “Dubbed ‘everybody’s baby,’ Baby Jessica tugged at the heartstrings of millions of viewers; thousands of strangers sent her family flowers, toys, cards, and money.” People couldn’t hide behind their ipads and make cruel comments. People were forced to feel the humanity in these situations…they could envision themselves in Cissy’s shoes. How many times had they left their child, just for one second…it could’ve happened to them. In the case of Harambe, the little boy’s mother did not get the same compassion, even though many of us have turned our back long enough for something like that to happen. We are imperfect humans just like her. It’s easy to be harsh when you don’t have to face the consequence of seeing your cruelty take the light out of someone’s eyes.

I think many of us are guilty of this from time to time at varying degrees. I admit I have said things during intense arguments that I wouldn’t have been willing to say in person. So, this goes for me too – if you are about to comment on anything on social media, pause for a moment. Ask yourself, “Could I look the person in the face and say this to them?” If the answer is “no” or it makes you a little uncomfortable thinking about it, maybe that’s because you should have the decency not to say it at all.

What are you thoughts? Do you think social media is making us extra cruel? Leave a comment below.

Hi, I’m Corrine! My loves in life are God, my husband, six kids, and church family, homeschooling, friends, and coffee (with chocolate!). I’ve been blessed to be a mother to a special needs child which has grown me in ways I never imagined. I hope I can encourage you today!
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