We all know what a cesspool for the outraged social media can be. It’s rife with people who take offense at every little thing. There are lots of theories about why, the anonymity of a screen being number one (although, hello, I just clicked through on your profile – how was dinner at the RSL last night? And is your grandmother doing better?)
The nasty side of social media is everywhere if you look hard enough. Which is to say, not very hard at all.
The flipside, of course, is the niceness that social media also brings out. “Love and light” is scattered even more than the trollfest. Which is just the way it should be, of course. It takes a huge helping of love and light to wash the troll down.
Trouble is, that’s pretty much the depth of emotion you find in most comments on social media. Either all YAY or all NAY. This is because a lot of the YAY camp delete the NAYs and vice versa. It’s so easy to manipulate social media to say whatever it is you think is ‘right’. The more we do it, the more important we think it is to be ‘right’.
But, there’s one more voice on social media that speaks volumes. The voice of silence.
You will have seen this for yourself, I’m sure. Someone puts up something controversial or downright offensive and they are met with screams of… nothing. The post sits there, the lack of comments flying like a banner shouting ‘F off with your nastiness. I’m not giving your bile a moment’s thought.’
I like that silence so much. It is filled with grace and kindness.
It actually takes a lot to scroll on by when you see something that riles you. Biting your tongue is never easy, but for all the reasons we do it in person, we should do it online too. “Don’t feed the trolls” is an important thing to remember.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to experience people’s grace and kindness on social media for myself.
A couple of months ago something incredibly upsetting happened to me that could have been, probably should have been, all over social media. But it wasn’t.
It wasn’t there because so many beautiful people chose to remain silent on the subject. They chose to scroll on by. The incident flared up to bushfire level elsewhere, but was snuffed the minute it hit social media. Snuffed by good people who had the good grace to let it slowly float away on the stream of opinions, thoughts and outrage that is our social media feed.
It’s hard to thank people for their blissful silence, but thank you anyway. Your thoughtfulness will always be remembered.