Mean Exchange

I know.  You clicked on this post because you actually thought it would be about math or accounting.  It’s not.  I will not be averaging out a series of numbers to share something cool.  Sorry to disappoint.  You’re welcome to visit Numberphile on youtube if you need some more maths in your life.

No, this post is about our demeanor and how we treat people.  Particularly, it’s about how we treat people online.  

I’ve reduced the amount of social media I consume significantly over the years.  Facebook’s feed doesn’t really show me the folks I do care about.  LinkedIn’s feed obnoxiously gives me a notification as if there was something new, but in reality it’s just another random post.  Twitter is great for brevity but I found that less actual news in my life makes me happier.  Mastodon is a pretty cool invention, but we’ll see how it turns out over time.  

One of the things I’ve noticed since being on the internet since 1994 is that people often feel the ability to be harsh to those they interact with online.  It’s not something that needs government regulation, but it is something that needs self-regulation.  Case in point.  There’s a woman named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who recently got elected to Congress.  She’s garnered a lot of attention in the process.  Some because of her age.  Some because of her philosophy.  Some because her campaign style.

Being a public figure means that she gets a good share of criticism.  I recently came across some of this criticism when I was looking at LinkedIn.  The original post began with:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “If we work our butts off we can take back the three chambers of government, the Presidency, the House, and the Senate”. OMG help us all, Idiocracy is here…

The comments below the video were tremendously unkind.  One person even predicted that her life would crash and burn and she’d find herself doing porn in a few years.

That seems to be an easy comment to write online, but I doubt they’d have the ability to say anything in person.

I tried to take the comments a different route and said:

Pointing out that someone might be wrong is vastly different then trying to understand how they got something wrong.   This might be an inexcusable mistake based upon her position, but it’s an understandable one based upon nerves (yes talking in front of the camera isn’t easy) and the reality that the majority of the coverage for government focuses on the areas she mentions.  I know I’ve learned plenty of lessons the hard way.  I hope she’s able to weather the storm of emotion and expectations that are in front of her.   She’s walking a harder path than the one I’m on right now.  I wish her all the best.

I do try to consider how others draw their conclusions.  Life is so much less contentious when you consider others.

Of course the commentors didn’t exactly see my point of view and continued along the lines they had started.  I think the original poster using the word “Idocracy” really set the tone.  It reminds me of something we read this week that can also be found in Matthew 5:22 which warns us against calling someone a fool.  

If the world can see what we post online then so can the people we talk about, and so can God.  I’ll play it safe and try to be the same person online that I try to be in person.

woman sitting on black chair near brown table