In society, where we meet people face-to-face, we tend to give so much value to ethics and the golden rule: Treat others the way you wish they would treat you. This is especially true when it comes to personal relationships.
However, it is the opposite when it comes to the online world. The discussion on basic kindness, tolerance, and good conduct becomes a blur. Friendships are ruined because of a Facebook comment gone wrong, and posts get viral because of someone’s “misconduct.” The so-called “cancel culture” has become so rampant, that kindness seems to have been thrown out of the window. (Read: Rajo Laurel Says Kindness Is Never Out of Fashion, and We Love Him for It!)
Amid all these, Pope Francis reminds us that “Digital connectivity is not enough to build bridges. It is not capable of uniting humanity.” So how do we keep our cool, remain tolerant, and become kind social media users?
How to Avoid Cancel Culture: Have Awareness of the Situations Around You
Being aware of people and situations will help you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. This will in turn translate to becoming more mindful of the comments and post you put in your feeds or timelines. You become more sensitive on what to post and what to comment because you know the plight of the people beyond the social media sphere. (Read: Personality Test: Are you becoming ‘too sensitive’ to social media?)
How to Avoid Cancel Culture: Acknowledge the Person Behind the Username
It’s easy to dismiss the person’s feelings when all you get to see is a username and a profile photo. So you have to make an effort to look for that story and to listen or simply consider that a person’s anger or desire to be noisy may come from stress or personal issues. (Read: Liza Soberano Opens Up About Anxiety, Shares Tips for Good Mental Health)
It also helps to think that each of us has a different background— maybe the person is tired from working two jobs, or dealing with the uncertainties that this pandemic brings.
How to Avoid Cancel Culture: Set an Example
There’s a saying that you cannot fight fire with fire. In social media, responding to a hate or mean comment with an even meaner one may give you instant gratification or a sense of “winning an argument,” but in reality, it just adds fuel to the fire and hurts the other person. (Read: My Pope-approved tips on how to behave in social media)
So, why don’t you set an example for the behavior you’d like for others to model? Demand courtesy on your site while giving the people an avenue to air their issues. Also, do not tolerate bad behavior— block and remove people who are bullying others in their comments. Remember, kindness is contagious.