When I’m not delivering professional development or talking/thinking/dreaming about digital citizenship, I’m either reading, walking my dog, or doing yoga. Yesterday at yoga, I got an inspiration for this blog post: let’s make social media more like yoga! If you’re scratching your head a bit at that thought, allow me to explain.
My yoga studio is a lovely, warm, inviting place, and because it’s been so successful, the adorable owner, Samantha, was able to open a second location. The grand opening of that new studio was held yesterday. Everyone wanted to congratulate Sam and see the beautiful new space, so it was a bit crowded. The room, obviously, only holds so many people, and we were all feeling a little comfortably crowded – and then someone else showed up. So we scooched our mats a little and made room for the new person. Then, two additional people walked in. Same thing. Then, FOUR MORE people wanted to join. Right as the clock was striking 9:00 (when the door is locked and class begins), one more person who was brand new to yoga stood timidly at the door, not knowing where to go. Once more, we all waved her in, adjusted our spacing, and absorbed her into the space of the room. Our yoga studio uses props like soft blocks and blankets; obviously there were not enough of these for everyone in such a crowded studio. And when the teacher asked if anyone would be willing to share props, you should have seen all the hands go up, waving their blocks, and offering them to anyone else who might need one. Because we were all so cozy and close, the teacher also had us do some crazy hard pose near the end where we were pressing against each other’s hands for support, all up and down the line of mats. I was the weak link on that one, I can tell you.
As I looked around at everyone being happy for Samantha and her beautiful new space, I thought, wow: this is the very best of humanity right here. People welcoming others, sharing what they have, and laughing together at an impossibly silly yoga pose fail. (Ok, maybe SOME of the participants found success on that one, but I was not among them.)
And because I have that digital citizenship thing on my radar like ALL THE TIME, this morning I was reading this terrific opinion piece by Leonard Pitts, Jr titled The Perils of Online Shaming. Pitts states that “there is something about the anonymity of social media that does not encourage us to be our best selves.” Boy, ain’t it the truth. I got to thinking about the scenario I described above and what it might have looked like if it had played out on Twitter instead of in real life. The tamest comments might have looked something like this:
- You should have gotten here earlier! OMG. <eye roll emoji>
- Coming in at the last minute, and you’re BRAND NEW? Not everyone would expect to get a spot with that kind of entitled attitude. Just sayin’.
- I can’t believe the owner didn’t plan better for this crowd. She should have known there would be this many people.
- I bet she’s the type who is always late to work , too. I’m tweeting a video of this outrageous behavior – c’mon, Twitter, let’s identify her and figure out who her employer is. #lateisnotgreat #beontimeforcryingoutloud #toomanymatsintheyogastudio #rookieyogamistakes #sincewhenisitfashionabletoonlygettoyogatwominutesbeforeclassstarts
You get the idea.
Moral outrage. Righteous indignation. I’m a little weary of this shaming cultured we find ourselves in right now. Then again, shaming has certainly been around a long time, probably since, like, forever. Maybe it’s just a part of our DNA.
But then again, kindness has been around a while, too, and the optimist in me wants to believe that’s just as big a part of our DNA.
The next time you see a snarky post on Twitter or Facebook – and it probably won’t take long for that to happen – imagine there is another side to the story. Imagine there is a human who has feelings, and who might be struggling with something difficult. Even remember that about the snarky person who made the unflattering post. Scooch over a little and make room for that person, even if they’re doing something you don’t especially agree with. (Maybe ESPECIALLY if they’re doing something you don’t agree with.) Share what you have. Welcome them. Build a relationship when you can. Because I can tell you, you’ll feel pretty good when you act like that. And maybe you’ll even restore someone else’s faith in humanity a bit, too.