What Say We Try Kindness?

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.27.09 AMI’ve blogged for a long time.

In fact, while messing around the other day in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for something unrelated to this blog, I found a logo from 10 years ago for an online group of bloggers who committed to using words kindly.

Although I’d forgotten about it, I was part of that group.

• • •

We were an optimistic bunch.

We sincerely thought that blogging would evolve into a source of respectful understanding and positive connections among people in this world.

I’m charmed by the naiveté of it all.  Especially in light of the past few week’s endless noise on FB and vitriol on Twitter.

But of course those social media didn’t exist when this group formed, so we had no idea about what was coming.

• • •

I rarely long for the good ole days.  

I realize that it’s easy to idealize remembrances of times past, and that these remembrances are often irrelevant when it comes to the issues of the day.

I’m a realist.  What was, isn’t.

But in this one case, regarding social media, I’m going to suggest that stepping back from how we as a society now do things would be a good idea.  The 24/7 insatiable need to be noticed and adored, which is how social media works currently, is not the best way to connect.

In contrast, looking back to 10 years ago, I remember how early blogging worked.  It was a heady experience that focused on authentic connections with other people, rather than the care and feeding of your ego.

• • •

I know that I’m preaching to the choir here.

And that my small voice of reason is going to be drowned out by the selfie-absorbed, the narcissists, the haters, the trolls.  But occasionally I like to believe that I might influence someone in a positive way that encourages him or her…

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.05.09 AMTo re-connect with their heart.

To cool it with the focusing on what’s wrong with other people.

And instead, perhaps even– to say something kind to, and about, someone else.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Midwestern by chance. Kindhearted most days.

49 thoughts on “What Say We Try Kindness?”

  1. Amen Sister!!! Everyone should listen to Wilson Pickett’s version of “Try a Little Tenderness” before they enter the blogosphere or social media arena. Be kind, y’all . . .

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  2. I try, with everything I say or do online to follow the rules of my hubby’s rotary club: Is it the truth?
    Is it fair to all concerned?
    Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
    Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

    I don’t always achieve all four – particularly the beneficial to all part – but I think that three out of four on a regular basis is a good start.

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  3. Wow! I so agree with your post today. We as a society, have gotten away from all kindness. Lack of respect is the biggest cause, in my opinion. Being kind and respectful always feels good. We need to get back to the “good old days.”

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    1. Beth, to you and me [and those people who read this blog] being respectful feels good, but to many other people spewing hate and venom feels good. And they are rewarded with attention for it. Therein, I believe, is the problem. I don’t know how you convince individuals who enjoy being disagreeable, that their behavior is no good, when they get what they want out of it, which is more attention.

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  4. I am always appalled and amazed at how mean people can be when they are anonymous. People should be required to use their REAL name when they go on mean rants. People seem to like that stuff though. The popular reality shows are the ones that are mean and cruel. Not my cup of tea (or coffee in this case).

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    1. Kate, I know what you mean. Years ago I allowed anonymous comments on my blog, but paid an emotional price for it when I was hit by trolls. In the process of that mess, I learned that the trolls felt that they had the “right” to say anything they wanted anonymously because if they had to use their real names, they couldn’t be truthful. It was so whacked– and this was before reality TV. 0.o

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      1. Nancy, I’ve done the same thing. Those anonymous commenters who are just telling it like it is are weirdly angry. They frighten, baffle, and disgust me all at once. Like you said, best to never look at news story comments.

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  5. I too agree. I haven’t been blogging for long, but even in my sob stories I always try to end them with hope, and hopes of helping others. My goal is to get all the yucky/messy/stinky stuff out so I can focus on the best of life/humanity. And so you know, I love your blog and how you write about it. It has offered up many a smiles on days when my posts were far from happy. You are the coolest of Beans ☺️

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    1. bitsfromheaven, exactly! I do the same thing. If the story is sad or ridiculous, I try to add some kindness to it, somehow. Thanks for the props. It’s nice to know that I’m appreciated. Love being the coolest of beans. Made me laugh with that one.

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  6. I guess I’ve been very, very lucky. In the 3 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve only encountered a positive, supportive community of really interesting people.
    I read your comment about earlier allowing anonymous comments. Maybe that’s what saved me.
    I have little / no use for FB or Twitter. The interaction is banal.
    A smile and kind word go a long way in this world.

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    1. joannesisco, I don’t promote this blog anywhere so whoever finds me is who is here. As a consequence, I’ve met all kinds of people along the way.

      I’d say 70% have been lovely people, 20% have been nice enough but wanted something from me, and 10% have been trouble. Although with the ability to block and moderate comments now, + a spam filter, trouble hasn’t shown up in a while.

      { knock on wood }

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        1. Me too!

          [I almost called you Joanne when I wrote the previous comment, but some people prefer that everyone use their full names, so until I’m certain, formal it is.]

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            1. Joanne, I think that it has to do with spreading your name around the interwebs, so that Google sees it more often. This then translates into a higher ranking in their search engine so that you become more visible online. At least that’s how it was explained to me. There’s a certain sense to it, if your goal is to be famous-er. I guess.

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  7. I do think you are preaching to the choir around here, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said!

    Related, Paul and I had a brief discussion yesterday involving anonymity on the Internet, and how much that has changed since the advent of social media. Obviously, there are still people who don’t care how unkind they are even if their real names are used, but I like to believe (perhaps naively) that the use of real names on the Internet may help decrease some of the awfulness that is out there.

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    1. Sarah, in some ways using your real name [or a nom de plume that everyone knows is you] keeps people in line. Or at least it keeps people in line who are pre-disposed to worrying about maintaining a pleasant image.

      But I realize that anyone who wants to be hateful or disruptive will find a way & a rationale for doing so, regardless of what name they use online. However, be that as it may, any tactic that slows down the flow of unkindness is a good thing in my worldview.

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  8. It’s difficult to block out the noise, for sure. Twitter lists definitely help, but Facebook seems more ‘shouty’ to me. And I try not to read comment sections on Facebook. The vitriol out there is disheartening.

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    1. Carrie, I have you to thank you for making me aware of Twitter lists. They’ve improved my experience there. As for the negative noise, overall I’m good at ignoring it. But the fact that I have to do so, makes me sad.

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  9. Preaching to the choir indeed. This is why my social media presence has gotten less and less. It’s why if I read news stories, I’m not allowed to read comments. It’s why I usually delay writing anything when I want to rant about politics. I break my own rules upon occasion, like my little happy dance when Martin Shkreli got arrested, but generally I try to remember that no matter how something appears from the outside, I don’t know the whole story. A dear friend of mine died in prison for a crime he did not commit. The incredible cruelty of former friends, clients and strangers in the community to his wife left me unable to just assume I knew the truth or to be certain that someone “deserved” what they got.

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    1. Zazzy, I can understand your need for personal rules when keeping a blog, or interacting anywhere online. I’m sure that I have some rules, but they’re more intuitive than codified. I’m just happy that your rules allow you to speak up here on The Spectacled Bean!

      As for mouthing off about M.S. I’d say that wasn’t breaking any rule, just applying common sense to a situation. That guy is slime.

      I’m sorry and horrified to read about what happened to your friend. No doubt the self-righteous people of the community felt it was their duty to let his wife know exactly where she belonged. I grew up around such attitudes. *meh*

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  10. Unfortunately, it’s way easier to fire off a snarky (or worse) comment than to take the time to gather facts & be thoughtful. And of course, with social media, the faster the better and the more you push people’s buttons, the more others will push yours in the form of Likes & Follows. But it’s hard not to sound old…back in my day, we opened our mouths and said actual words when we wanted to talk to someone… haha

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    1. Nancy, I agree about feeling old. You’ve explained the process/logic about how and why these mean people do what they do. It’s all for some virtual Likes and a few more Followers. Because that’s important?

      I grew up at a time and in a way when talking directly and kindly to other people was pretty much a given, so acquiring all these online kudos doesn’t mean very much to me. But for those whose egos are invested in their online personas, unkindness gets them what they want.

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      1. Each era looks back on the previous ones and finds attitudes & behaviors that are naive, antiquated, even backward by our modern standards. I wonder if this early 2000s obsession with social media will fall into that category. (I hope…since that means we will have evolved past it!)

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  11. I love blogging because I feel more authentic and able to express how I feel and how I think. However, I also enjoy(mostly) Facebook for the funny stories, anecdotes, cat videos and glimpses into other people’s lives. Political vitriol has not been fun to read though.

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    1. Margaret, you’ve been around the blogosphere longer than I have! It’s really changed. This shift toward unkindness & hate, that we’ve seen unfold before our eyes, makes me uncomfortable and sad.

      I’ll have nothing to do with FB because I found that many of my “friends” there tended toward mean-spiritedness [or banality]. However, when it comes to blogging, where I have more control over whose comments show up here, I am still dismayed by the unkindness that I occasionally see.

      How difficult is it to be thought-filled and nice, huh?

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  12. Enjoyed reading your take on the blogging behavior over time as you’ve been here much longer than I have. I’ve tried to keep a low profile on social media – cautious in blogging – seen too much in real life how ugly/self centered/ego driven people are – on line being anonymous and able to make up a life, the behavior has the potential for being even worse. Encountered quite a few trolls and bullies ( who disagree with things such as helping the SPCA raise money and stuff…) but screen and delete is helpful. I just consider the source…marginal person with issues.
    I try to read new blogs and encourage them – it drives me nuts to see the same troll writing the same ugly hateful comment attacking a new blogger. Always try to dull that meanness, let the blogger know to ignore and delete that one. No matter what, it seems like some people can’t allow anyone to have any happiness.
    Do wonder what all this will morph into next.
    Twitter is too much “Beware of opening mouth/fingers before brain is in gear.”
    Great post – and we love it here!

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  13. philmouse, it was weird to stumble over my past while researching. I’d entirely forgotten about that group. Great people to a one. Thinking back on them reinforced my impression that online kindness seems to be in short supply anymore.

    I’m lucky in that I fly under the radar most of the time with this personal blog. I’m niche-less, older, and nutty enough in my approach to blogging that all but the most sincere people stay away! There are advantages to being quirky.

    I’m happy to know that you encourage newer bloggers to keep going. Everyone has a pretty template now, but it’s more difficult to get noticed and appreciated in the blogosphere now than when I started. Not to mention how awful the trolls and haters can be. That being said, I, also, wonder what all this will morph into next.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You’re one of the kind ones, you know! You could have been in that group, back then.

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  14. Amen, Ally! Especially with the election year, it’s going to be a doozy on social media. It already has. I’m doing my best to combat the negativity with inspirational quotes or funny life stories, but people are going to do their thing.

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    1. Britt, I like your approach to combating the negative. I try to throw a bit of kindness into anything I write or say. It might not change the world, but it could change one person’s world, which I figure is something good.

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  15. Ally, your post may only be discovered by those who read your blog and may not extend beyond that area, but your message is timeless and will still reach people. As others discover your message I feel they will take it to heart. That’s because social media is open to so many—meaning that, although, rhis current trend will likely continue—there will also be more who will grow disenchanted with the haters, trolls. and narcissist. Keep spreading that hope for more kindness. :O)

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    1. Thank you. You flatter me. I believe that trolls & haters burn themselves out, while in the end, kindness endures. No harm emphasizing that point once in a while. Might as well make good use of a blog post. 🙂

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  16. Great post and point Ally! I was thinking about the human desire to be judge, jury, and executioner. People can turn so hatefully on their neighbor and persecute them out of existence. The hatred on social media definitely concerns me.

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    1. Kourtney, I’m with you about worrying about the hatred on social media. It’s so over the top– and getting worse every day. You’ve nailed the problem with the judge, jury, executioner analogy. Kindness seems to be an old-fashioned idea that doesn’t fit into the world of haters.

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  17. I love your post and would reblog it if I could! I once posted “Simple Kindness” and people responded more than any other post because I believe most people yearn for kindness. Thank you!

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