I've been reading a few of my usual blogs lately and have stumbled upon the mommyblog difficulties that have arisen between a blogger called Chicken Liver and various other bloggers. I realize that I've seen some of her negative comments on blogs before and I always vaguely wondered why she would bother. I now understand she had an entire blog devoted to bashing certain women whom she felt were abusing their power as writers, neglecting their children or families in some way, etc. While I recognize that in this country, everyone has a right to her (or his) own opinion, in reading some of her prior posts, I personally found them to be vitriolic and hateful on an unnecessary level. She verbally attacked these people's children, posted home addresses, and wrote commentary on a level I find unnecessary--and growing.
I just don't understand it. While anyone who posts writing on the Internet has the right to express her feelings because it's all opinion and personal experience, and that person may well have detractors who vehemently disagree with said opinion and personal experience, why make a point of spending time and energy writing down mean comments about other people whom you don't know? I also see this constantly in reading comments on news articles. People are so quick to judge without knowing a whole situation, so quick to put their two cents in in a negative way, writing about how someone is stupid or wrong or racist or Socialist or what-have-you.
Why do it? Perhaps I'm naive, but when did we become so mean? What purpose does it serve?
I think this has come to mind as well because we've had more fights in my school than in times past, and I asked the kids why they thought this was happening. I got a whole host of answers ranging from "they're just being stupid; the fights are pointless" to "he was defending his cousin because someone said bad stuff about her" to "because it stops that person from talking trash about you" to "because they're new and being picked on". (People still pick on the new kid? How cliche'. How lame.) As T said, "I have to respect you for you to be able to offend me." So why bother? When I pointed out T's position, they said, "Yeah, but if you walk away, then you're weak/wimping out". It doesn't surprise me, but it saddens me to hear that perspective.
I never got into fights when I was younger. I didn't see the point, and I stuck to people who were nice and liked me and whom I liked. My rationale is that if you're nice to people, it creates a ripple effect and everyone benefits from it. Finslippy posted about this recently in the vein that we need to recognize that when people act snarky, there may be a reason for it. Perhaps that person's having a bad day and chooses to take it out on the other guy. Perhaps she's just found out some terrible news. Or stayed up all night sick. Who knows? That's the question, isn't it?
I try--I really, really try--to not react too quickly when confronted with meanness or rude people, and I try not to snap at others when I'm in a bad mood myself. When a student snaps at me, it takes a lot for me not to have a knee-jerk response; I've tried to train myself to ask, "Are you ok today? Because the only reason I can think of that you would talk to me that way is that you're having a bad day." Admittedly, my tone of voice ranges from genuine concern to I'm giving you a chance to apologize for acting like a twerp, so be smart and shape up, kid. It tends to work. I've used it on non-students as well, usually taking the less confrontational tone. It still works pretty well. I'm not perfect; I've definitely snapped at folks, but I don't make it my M.O.
I guess what I'm trying to point out is that if we act nice to each other and treat each other kindly, it will continue, just as negativity breeds more of the same. So be kind and reap the benefits. You'll live longer. There's just no point living an angry, bitter, constantly-on-edge life.
Now I'm going to go hug the dog and give my husband a kiss.