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’.