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Treat People On Social Media As You Would In Real Life

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Last week I wrote a post about mom bashing, and how women judge and gang up on each other. But I think that what I was trying to communicate --how we use social media to treat each other badly -- got diluted because I used such a controversial example (Maria Kang) .

After much reflection and a most excellent discussion with a smart friend, I have refined and extended my message beyond Moms to..well..everyone. And it is this: Do unto others on social media as you would do unto them in real life.

Have you noticed that once someone is behind a screen it's like all semblance of courtesy no longer applies? Just hang out on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere commenting is enabled and you'll see what I mean.

Call me June Cleaver, but I truly believe that social media has killed our concept of manners. Just like ironically, open access to information has actually made us even more small-minded.

It's really not that hard to take a beat and consider the impact of your words or actions. Are they mean-spirited or just outspoken? Unkind or honest? Rude or activist?

As far as I'm concerned, there are seven social media fails that I see on a daily basis.

You have the nerve to disagree with me? Folks, I know you've forgotten, but we are allowed to have our own opinions and do things in our own house in our own way. In fact, that's what makes the world so interesting to live in. Can you imagine if there was just one kind of TV show, one book to read, one pair of pants (one sex position?) I had a fairly heated discussion on Twitter last week, and actually received compliments on how we conducted ourselves. While flattering, why should two grown-ups having a mature conversation be so outside of normal that others notice? You and I don't have to agree about everything, but here's a newsflash, I don't have to be an jerk about it. Revolutionary, I know.

She started it! To be honest, if one of my kids said that to me I'd have to strongly resist the urge to smack them upside the head (virtually, of course. I don't hit my kids. Don't spread rumours). It's with this comment that rational discourse falls apart and when tit-for-tat turns an interesting debate into a pissing contest. I'll let you in on a little secret: Just because she started it, doesn't mean you have to finish it.

You are the master of your own response. People can only affect you if you let them. If what they've said is bothering you that much, maybe look inside yourself to see why. Honey, there's a good chance it's not them, it's you. If you don't like someone's politics or their advertising, or what they stand for, you have three choices. You can have a productive discussion to try and understand each other and maybe effect change, you can ignore them, or you can start an argument with them. You DO NOT have to get into it. Nor are you bound to gather a lynch mob and go after them. Free to Be You and Me.

Don't assume you know everything. You know that thing where you actually read the article or do your research before sharing your brilliant opinions? Yeah. That. Seriously, just because you have a Twitter account doesn't make you an expert on everything. And just because @marysmartypants says so, doesn't make it real. You know what they say about assuming. It makes an ass out of you, not me.

Bull in a china shop. Yes, we know you feel strongly about the price of tea in China. But that doesn't mean you have to crash my tea party and tell me so. Sure, you have a right to air your opinions. That's the beauty of democracy. But I've got news for you. You get more flies when you use your own hashtag. Highjacking someone's party to spread negativity doesn't get anyone on your side. Would you show up at a bar-mitzvah uninvited and complain that the meat isn't free-range? Personally, I'm more apt to listen to your side when you're not jamming your philosophy down my throat. I always go for the underdog.

You're not better than me. Hey, you! Climb down off your high horse. You can go back up there when you're perfect. Who are you to show me the way? I probably do things the way I do them because I decided to, just like you did. I love my kids, my husband, my dogs, my house, my camel toe just as much as you love yours. So, until you actually switch bodies with me, get your shizzle out of my bizzle. And I'll do the same.

Everything doesn't have to be a thing. So, you don't like that magazine cover or that something a celeb said. That chick on Twitter doesn't use cloth diapers or uses water bottles or leaves her car idling, or eats too much sugar or manufactures offshore or travelled to a communist country or said something about that actress or she's too fat or he's too skinny or they're too rich or they brag about being poor. Take a breath and let it go. Does it really affect your life? Do you NEED to?

As the president of The Cult of Nice I challenge you to ask yourself these three questions before you act:

  • Would I say that to your face?
  • What would I do if my kids did that/said that?
  • How would I feel if someone said that to me?

PS if you don't agree with me, that's totally fine. I respect that. See how easy that was?

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