Part 1: What happened to, “If you can’t say something nice”?


I remember my toddler self getting sat down on the time out chair and my finger wagging mother telling me in a very stern voice, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I remember from then on that saying would echo inside waiting for me to one day tell my kids that.

Now I still have a loose mouth when it comes to the harsh words I say. I’m no where near perfect with the words that get shoved out by an intense emotion. But one thing that haunts me is the fact that we cannot apply this basic principle to online comments and writing. We have become cowardly in our writing and posting when it comes to commenting passive aggressive, rude or unnecessary words for no other reason but to offend.

What happened to this teaching that traces back to kindergarten? If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.

The negative repercussion of online communication is that it dehumanizes people. It is now easier to ignore the fact that when we comment towards a news article or on a picture or even try to state our political views, that it is towards people. Not images. Not profile pictures. Not some blank article that is lost into space. It’s towards people.

The new rule of thumb is now, “If you can’t say it to their face, don’t say [post] it at all.” But even that doesn’t sit well at all. I’m not saying that we need to water down our opinions or stifle our beliefs but we need to know how to communicate them effectively without causing harm or insult to the people around us.

Most of our arguments, comments, and negativity are knee jerk reactions filled with emotion instead of logic. They are reactions to things that people have said to get under our skin.

I have 43 drafts of articles saved to my computer. Why? Because most of them are overreactions to emotional topics that got me heated or angered. So I wrote and  the words flowed from my brain to my finger tips. But I have a rule. If something angers me or causes me to have a emotional reaction, I write it. But I also hold off on clicking that “Post” button.

I wait 24 hours.

I go back, read what I wrote, and it usually stays in the drafts folder.

My arguments are shallow, my sentences don’t make sense and my story telling is convoluted to nonsense.

We need to become better communicators, just arguers and overly cautious of the fact that people are people no matter the platform in which they communicate. If we allow 24 hours to craft our argument, let our emotions sit and settle, and then decide with a clear mind if it worth posting, our views might change. 24 hours.

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