I’m not going to lie, deleting an ugly comment on one of my social media platforms and blocking or banning the person from posting future inappropriate rants has become one of my greatest pleasures in life.
Granted, people have always had these sardonic thoughts, but now they have an easy, quick, public way to express them. Not being the owner or manager of a media company, First Amendment rights need not apply to anything with my name attached. Like you, I am the sole proprietor of my platforms and can make my own rules based on my own personal standard of decency.
But what I’m really concerned about now is the fact that this is the unfiltered world our children are growing up in - a world where people feel like they can say anything to anyone, no matter how ugly or harmful, with little or no repercussions.
Hence, young people are dealing with an intense cyber-landscape replete with verbal harassment, bullying and just plain meanness. And it’s not just online. I believe the freedom people have experienced with words on the Internet is slowly seeping into our society like an undetected gas leak. The standards of diplomacy and simple manners in everyday human interaction are giving way to individuals’ certainty that they are right and everyone else is wrong. All you have to do is spend a few minutes watching the contenders for the highest office in the land spar to get a taste of this malarkey.
This movement of negativity has spawned the popular expression “haters” to describe people who seem to walk around like Pig-Pen from the Charlie Brown comic strip with a perpetual dark cloud swirling above them.
So, I came up with an idea. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just all carry around small signs and every time someone said something ugly we could just hold up the “delete” sign, and if they persisted, we could just hold up the “block” or “ban” signs to prevent them from continuing to speak to us. No confrontation, no ugly words returned, just silently saying: Sorry, I’m done with you. I liken it to putting your fingers in your ears and humming loudly, the universal sign for not wanting to listen.
Obviously, this isn’t practical, but its fun to think about. So, for now, as parents, we must explain to our children when to listen and when to turn away. Sometimes it’s important for us to listen to difficult, even critical words, if they are delivered in a constructive way. But sometimes, it’s just as important to turn away.
In the words of the esteemed poet Maya Angelou: “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but it has not solved one yet.”
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.