Grow up!

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

We all grow up even­tu­ally, and sup­pos­edly we be­come stronger and more able to fol­low so­ci­ety’s rules. But the golden rule – the most im­por­tant one – seems to fall by the way­side as we learn how to file in­come taxes and read the ‘Land­lord Ten­ant Act’.

I can’t pin­point ex­actly when it hap­pens. And it cer­tainly doesn’t hap­pen to ev­ery­one. But there are far too many adults mod­el­ing the ex­act op­po­site of the golden rule in our so­ci­ety.

Maybe they never learned it? Maybe they be­longed to that small per­cent­age of chil­dren, not raised right, who never heard it or as­sim­i­lated it? Or maybe they’re just self­ish. We worry about our chil­dren be­ing bul­lied via so­cial me­dia. But when what they see is adults around them leav­ing nasty com­ments on news ar­ti­cles and blog posts or peo­ple fling­ing in­sults via Twit­ter or us­ing Face­book to keep track on the peo­ple who aren’t re­ally their friends – as so many adults do – what can we ex­pect from them?

I spend a lot of time online – it’s a part of my ca­reer. And I try to en­gage in de­bate and learn about other view­points.

Most peo­ple who know me will tell you I’m one of the least of­fen­sive peo­ple they know. And yet the num­ber and in­ten­sity of per­sonal at­tacks I re­ceive for writ­ing my col­umns, ex­press­ing my view­point else­where or en­gag­ing in de­bate on Twit­ter or Face­book some­times makes me cry. Yes. It phys­i­cally makes me cry. We all slip up some­times. God knows I have. And I re­mem­ber ev­ery sin­gle time.

Be­cause it’s not just oth­ers I ex­pect a lot from, those same ex­pec­ta­tions are on me. But some peo­ple seem to make it their life’s mis­sion to make oth­ers mis­er­able.

And these are the adults in our so­ci­ety: the ones that are sup­posed to be able to con­trol them­selves; the ones who have learned the golden rule and are ex­pected to model it.

If that’s what grow­ing up is – de­vel­op­ing a bit­ter ha­tred and mis­trust of oth­ers – than I’ll take my son’s tem­per tantrums and re­fusal to co­op­er­ate. And I won’t grow up ei­ther.

But I re­ally have to won­der why we put up with this. In blog­ging lingo they call peo­ple who leave nasty com­ments ‘trolls’ and the say­ing is ‘don’t feed the trolls’, in other words, don’t re­spond to them. But while we don’t al­ways feed them we seem happy to give them a play­ground to tromp around in and show oth­ers ex­actly how not to be­have.

If we want to change the way our chil­dren treat each other in so­cial me­dia and online, then we need to change the way we be­have and re­spond to the be­hav­iour of oth­ers. What is not ac­cept­able from a seven year old shouldn’t be ac­cept­able from a 47-yearold ei­ther.

Dara Squires is a free­lance writer and mom of three based in Cor­ner Brook. You can con­tact her on face­book at ‘ www.face­book.com/read­ilya­parent’.

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