Kindness is having a moment. Inspirational quotes and books about kindness flood the net.
But I wonder how many people walk the walk when they feel anonymous in the safety of their own homes, staring at a computer.
In a world where so many of us are hidden behind computer screens, kindness can easily take a backseat.
The term "internet trolls" has become popular in the blogging and publishing world as a way to categorize commenters who attack the writer's character or life choices in a demeaning, destructive way.
It's not like writers don't have backbones. Puh-leeze! We risk rejection every single time we submit something. We are sooooo very familiar with rejection. However, there is a huge difference between an editorial rejection based on the topic, essay style, or suitability to a certain publication and flat-out rudeness or character-bashing from a reader.
A friend recently shared a gut-wrenching, honest, real essay about her daughter, and the comments-- the comments!-- were awful. Not, "this isn't high quality writing" awful, or "I take a different perspective" awful-- neither of which are really too awful at all, actually, considering just how bad they can get. Those kinds of comments are matters of opinion and most of us can brush them off to a point.
The comments on my friend's piece crossed the line. Comment after brutal comment was ugly. I won't be giving the commenters more fuel for the fire by repeating them here.
Here's what gets to me: It was as if these commenters didn't understand that what they were writing would be seen and felt by a real, actual person. As if a soul-less computer wrote the article instead of a mother, wife, woman.
We can all praise kindness as much as we want in person, but without that same mindset online, it doesn't hold any teeth.
There were also some supportive comments on her post, and if she's even still reading them at all, hopefully their support helped her a bit.
Let's remember the Golden Rule when it comes to our online presence-- treat others how we want to be treated. Pretty much a standard you could live your life by, right?
Are you a writer or artist who has experienced cruel remarks about your work? What was your reaction or response? Is it something we should just expect in a "free country," or should there be a limit to extremely negative criticism?
P.S. Galit Breen (a fellow Minnesotan writer!) wrote a great book, Kindness Wins, all about the importance of how we treat each other online. It may be primarily targeted towards tweens and teens (and their parents), but I also found it eye-opening and helpful as an adult who writes and reads a lot online, and as a parent who will have children old enough to be online soon enough!
~Julia @ Frantic Mama
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