Be Kind or Piss Off



I’ve been thinking about how I handle some friends who have been challenging other friends – people they’ve never met – on my social media pages. The thing is, for me, what I share on social media is pretty broad – some are ideas, some are opinions, and much of it is just the crazy shit going on in the world or in my head. I take full responsibility for what I share and I’m very happy to be challenged over any of it – always with the hope the challenger remembers to be kind. However, when people attack other people for sharing their thoughts and ideas with me, I’m not feeling so comfortable anymore. Have a go at me – no problem. Have a go at others – we could have a problem.

The thing is, people feel and think things for a whole variety of reasons. I believe we can never know another’s story, or the thoughts that rattle around in their heads, and that it’s impossible to understand how another’s experiences have impacted or shaped who they are. When we think we know how another feels, we are still only interpreting this from our own experience, not theirs, because we are not them and they are not us. I believe that even those closest to us remain a mystery. This is one of the reasons I try never to judge anyone and feel uncomfortable around judgmental people, which ironically, is a judgment right?

Anyhoo, social media is a channel for us all to celebrate the big and small things in our lives with our closest community or complete strangers. My Facebook community is my friends and family – people I know and care about. Ninety nine percent of my friends on Facebook are people I value having in my life. The other 1% are connected to me through other’s I know. My other social networks are different - these are colleagues (past and present), strangers or peers relevant to my life, so it’s about being connected to people interested in me and me in them – for whatever reason – work, blogging, etc…. That lack of personal connection usually sees interactions as being pretty straight.

Therefore, with my Facebook page in particular, I feel that my friends and family should be able to share their celebrations with me (as I’m part of their community) without being criticized by someone they don’t know. I also believe how they live and celebrate should not be judged by strangers, because how we each live our lives is relevant within the context of our own cultures. Let’s also not forget that celebrating one’s life is important too, because what’s the point of living if we forget to have a good time while we’re at it? There’s enough misery in the world already.  

My friend community is very broad, and this is something that gives me enormous pleasure. I have friends who have more money than Donald Trump – well maybe not that much – and equally I have friends who grew up in refugee camps, surviving on cockroaches. I have friends who have witnessed unbelievable brutality, and I have friends who haven’t had a bad day in their life. Almost every country, race and religion is in my community, and I cherish the diversity of experiences that are shared on Facebook. It makes social media a wonderfully vibrant medium in my life.  My Facebook feed is my own little United Nations - it’s very cool.

But with that contrast of lives, there are vast differences too – which is where the challenge comes in, especially as a lot of the people I hold dear are very passionate people as well.

In my travels, I have seen that the majority of the world’s population does not enjoy the privileges many enjoy and take for granted. I’ve really grappled with this, however I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of people contribute to making the world a better place in their own way. I’ve had the privilege of living and spending time in some of the poorest communities in the world and equally, the richest. I can tell you that my heart has regularly been broken by the unfairness I see in the world. I completely understand how people struggle with disparities - comparing the haves with the have-nots – it IS really hard to reconcile the two, but those of us considered better off can’t live in guilt for living our lives, because the reality is, no matter who you are, where you are, or how rich or poor you are – there are shitty aspects in your life as well.

Wealth and physical abundance is not the only measure of success or happiness. Community and loving support should also be factored into this equation, and the “poor” of the world often have that in abundance. One of my greatest epiphanies when travelling was the ability to look beyond the poverty and see the really important things these communities had – things the West lost long ago. Mother Theresa was famous for her quote of all that she had witnessed in the world, the saddest was the loneliness she saw in the West. No one has it right, all societies have room for improvement, but rather than judging each other, let’s continue working together so everyone has enough. That’s all that matters.

I believe I see both sides as much as I am able to see them, and I just want to ask – please be kind to my friends and family? Everyone I am connected with I value for a whole host of reasons. Everyone I am connected with has enhanced my life in magical ways. I feel incredibly privileged by the diverse people that are in my life, but some of them are a bit crazy. Some of them have out of this world ideas. Some are conservative. Some are content with really nice and beautiful lives. Some are religious. Some are spiritualists. Some are atheists. Some are just their beautiful, authentic selves. I love them all for who they are and I want them contributing to discussions on my Facebook feed. Many are telling me they don’t want to contribute when a stranger starts attacking them and others. That doesn’t make me smile, because I want to know what they think – no matter how off the wall it is. It is the sharing of ideas that helps me to grow, because I don’t know anything when it comes down to it.

So participate, enjoy, challenge the people you know, but when you don’t know someone, perhaps think twice before jumping in? I have one goal in life and that is to be kind – that’s it. I tell my boys to be the same. I reckon if we can be kind we can make a difference in the world and that’s all I’m asking here – be kind.

I’m not an “unfriender” – it’s not who I am - but seriously, if you can’t be kind, perhaps it is time for you to piss off?

Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea
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