Sticks and stones...
.... But words do hurt you.
In my previous post about my journey with depression , I mentioned how destructive strangers judging me on Facebook was to my mental health. Social media is such a huge part of our day to day lives it's easy to forget that we are actually still all human beings, with real feelings. Emojis and memes mask our true feelings or reactions to things, dehumanising the faces we see on our friends lists.
I completely understand when our friends are going through something or they have been hurt by someone, our instinct is to jump to their defence and want to protect them. But sometimes that can be to the detriment of others. A social media post is not always fact, it's still someones opinion. People tend to use the protection of their phone or their keyboard to pass judgement of others without fear of repercussions, but it's not just a throw away post or comment - that is someones reality. When you are wishing ill of somebody, threatening someone, saying they will get just what they deserve - take a second to remember you could the reason someone doesn't sleep at night. You could be the reason someone breaks. You could ultimately be the reason someone hurts themselves.
We have ALL done things we shouldn't, we have all made mistakes, we have all done something silly, we've all hurt someone at some point in our lives, so how can we judge others?
It took me a long time to put the things people said behind me, it was difficult not to retaliate and want to share my side of the story - but that makes me no better than them. I almost wish those people could have had a little insight into what I was going through, what impact their words had on me, when in reality seconds after pressing that post button they were probably already on someone else's case. What people tend to forget is when you hit post, your comment is online - pretty much forever - which means the people you're slating can sit and re-read your comments over and over again. Trust me, I've done it. I can still relay some of the comments now, word for word even after 5 years.
I actually deactivated my Facebook account for a while - not because I was "guilty" or "ashamed", but because I was driving myself mad re-reading the comments daily. Was I really this horrible person? Was I going to "get what I deserved?" Is "what I deserved" suicidal thoughts and years on anti-depressants? Is that what those people really hoped would happen? I often wander how it would make them feel if they knew the pain and depression they had contributed to and how much impact their words had.
Another thing that shocked me was the age of some of the people who were commenting - people who should probably know better than to say such horrible things. How would they feel if someone said something similar about their children or other family members?
Social media has given people an outlet where they think it's ok to write abusive things about people. It's bullying plain and simple. Would they have chosen to say those things to my face? Most of them - probably not.
It's made me think twice before I comment on anything these days, I only want to share positivity and use my words to build people up, rather than tear them down. I cringe every time I see someone posting about their personal drama and see the comments flying in, ripping into people they've probably never even met. I appreciate that people who choose to share their personal life and private issues on Facebook must have a good reason to and they obviously feel they have been hurt and are seeking some kind of recognition for that, but just because it's there it doesn't mean you have to use it. If Facebook didn't exist, would they take out an advert in the local paper to publicise what someone had done to them? Would they stand on the street telling everyone they meet about it? That's effectively what a Facebook post is doing.
Think twice before you post and especially before you comment, the posts you read are bias, they are one persons version of reality. It's painful and uncomfortable to read some of the things people say about others. Take a moment to think about what someone might be going through and how your words might affect them. Don't let your comments be the last thing someone reads.
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.