I have been thinking about what happens when we, human beings, communicate using typed words.
With almost all communication happening online and through text, we can not rely on visual cues to tell us the tone of written words. I remember reading notes and letters from friends and you could tell when they were mad or stressed because of the pressure on the pen or pencil. You could tell happiness, relaxation, joy, from the way things were written. Now, we only have word choice, and I am noticing that less people are using a wide variety of words.
And with communication taking place with typed words and not being able to see someones face or hear their voice, what may be intended as a joke comes across as being rude or insulting sometimes.
I want to ask a few things of my friends, of myself and eventually, of my children...
I want to ask them to always Assume Kindness. When someone says something that MIGHT be condescending or from the point of a know it all, to try and see it as someone trying to offer help. It is not someone saying that you are stupid for not knowing.
I want to ask them to Research First. Before you ask a question in a public forum, do a little research. You can use search engines to look for information about everything. It is easy to read about various opinions and ideas and to educate yourself before you ask something online.
A side note to Research First: this applies to reposting things others have said or written. It might seem amazing or fantastic, but sadly these days people need attention and seek it out online by making things up which other people then repost and share and further spread the made up things without thinking about who it might upset. There have been instances of children who's pictures have been used to get everything from Facebook Likes to donated money and the parents of these children have NO idea that these things are even happening.
Before you speak online, Spell Check. Its free, its easy, it educates you on how to spell words. And as your spell checker helps you and you re-read your words, check your grammar to the best of your ability. Appearing as intelligent as possible is never a bad thing.
And lastly, before you say anything, as yourself a few things. Is it KIND? is it TRUE? will it HELP SOMEONE? and If this was the last thing you ever got to say, is this how you would want to be REMEMBERED?
I have a few of these things I need to work on myself. I assume the worst of people, but then I realize that I can not see their face as they type, maybe they are only trying to help. They do not know me, do not know how much I know or what I have already read on the subject. I can not expect them to read my mind and not link to an article I read last month. So I need to assume kindness. I also need to think about if these are the things I want to be remembered by. I complain a little too much. I would rather be remembered for being a good person, a kind person, a joyful person.
I miss the days of letters and notes over texts and smiley faces. But hopefully I can still teach my children how to put a little emotion and kindness out into the wilds of the internet when the day comes that they are ready to start communicating in a way beyond raspberries and tantrums.