The president of my alma mater, Wheaton College, once described the attitudes we see online, and in person, as America’s new culture of “free floating rage.” It is a phrase that, as I’ve watched people, including the President-elect, assault others on Twitter and through other social media channels, has stuck with me.
The hate and vitriol that has been swirling around feels a bit like a red tide at the beach – random, choking and beyond my control to clean up. So I’ve watched, but have largely stayed silent except for the occasional observation:
But yesterday, as I looked through Twitter, I discovered someone close to me was adding to the rage and the hate. In a series of comments this person, who shall remain nameless and genderless, had lobbed several hate-filled, threatening (“something bad will happen to you”) grenades at a female reporter who dared to speak out against our President-elect.
Contemplating what was said, I wanted to reach out to apologize to the recipient. To tell her that she was not alone and that what this person had said was not okay. And that it was not a reflection on those who are connected with this person.
I also wanted to dope smack the sender.
It made me realize that there are times when I can make a difference. That I, and the others connected to this person, have a responsibility to watch our personal internet troll and tell them when they step out of line. To remind them that, despite all of our differences, we are stuck together on this green and blue marble and need to treat each other with respect and kindness.
It’s not much. It may not be enough. And it certainly may not work. But it can’t hurt. It might help. And just think what we could do if each of us would clean up our little stretch of beach.