YOU are part of an amazing change in our world. Good eventually prevails. Yes it does. Believe in that or you will lose your mind looking around at all the ugly and the hurting. But YOU are part of the good.
Keep reading if you are tired of social media being over run by the negativity and want to be part of the positive change.
If you’ve been bullied online and want to see that it can be different, read on.
If you’ve written a negative comment out of hasty frustration, take a deep breath and find a different view here.
If you’ve added a little more passion than normal to Taylor Swift’s song, Shake it Off, you may love this post. (If not, please don’t be a hater? Deal?)
If you’ve ever been dissed by another fire wife, the fire department or just stay away from those online forums that are taken over by the negativity, read on.
The tides are shifting. And it starts right here.
Over the years of running this website, my tolerance level for haters has gone up. Not in that I let them hate all over our website and social media but in that it doesn’t affect me for nearly as long nor as harshly as it initially did. Why should I let them take so much of my mind space anyhow?
It’s not that I don’t care for those people. I do. My reaction now is more concern. That person must really be hurting to spew that kind of negativity. And I better work even harder to help. You see, I came into this just trying to share a good word. Out of the goodness of my heart. I mean, why else would I spend all these hours working at something?
So when negative comments started rolling in I was occasionally rocked. How can somebody say that? For example, the following have been actual comments on our site or in private messages (which are way stronger actually because then you can be sweet as Georgia peaches to the public while you privately message hate).
- All firefighters are cheaters.
- All female firefighters start affairs.
- That wife will NEVER survive as a fire wife if she has to text him all day long.
Actually I can’t go on. These just make me feel icky and I don’t want to bring anymore of that in here. Clearly those are statements from hurtful people that aren’t rational and do not reflect the views of our site in any way. Nor are they helpful to the people who are experiencing those hurts. Moving on.
There are actually way worse haters on many other outlets than ours. (Makes me grateful. What we deal with is kindergarten level in comparison). Any news media for example. You quickly find Judgy McJudgerton telling us all exactly how that fire should have been fought to avoid injury or death.
Today’s example with the horrific viral video of the Captain from Fresno falling through the roof is a great example. Everyone is on their soapbox. An armchair quarterback. The hurt is thick and the comments slice harder than usual in these sensitive times. I would like to say that the “Brotherhood” is stronger than this but frequently those comments come from other firefighters. Ugh. Why people? This isn’t the time.
Do you ever feel like the news media hires people to write the most insane, argumentative comments in their news feeds just to drive attention and traffic to their site?
Because certainly no one in their right mind is sitting around ready to write some of that stuff which is so narrow minded and hateful. I could write a whole post on this but will contain it to this paragraph. News media has to draw people in. It’s their measure of success. So the sensationalistic crap we see is exactly for this purpose. I stopped watching the news 5 years ago and haven’t missed anything important. In fact, I gained peace and time in my life. I highly recommend this approach.
But today. Today I read perhaps the best article yet about social media haters. From Nadia Goodman, social media editor at TED and her response to the negativity:
I usually have a pretty thick skin for nasty comments. In this profession I’ve had to develop one, though of course I hardly relish having commenters tell me to shove a gun in my mouth and blow my head off, as has happened in the past. But nothing prepared me for this. Such an outpouring of negativity wore down my defenses, exposing a side of humanity that felt so vicious, unfeeling and unrelenting that my sense of existential aloneness was brought into high definition.
I’ve been there. I’ve been ready to throw in the towel and give up on humanity and shell up like a hermit and swear off all social media. Can you imagine? The pressure of these negative comments is sometimes enough to make people stop blogging. Delete Facebook. To stop trying to do good. One commenter even said “Almost every time I post a comment to a story or public forum my heart beats fast, my face gets flushed and I hesitate hitting the post button, especially when it’s in a sea of negative comments. THANK YOU for sharing this article and thank you to the author for giving me the courage to continue being upstanding on social media.”
This is sooooooo not what we want. Don’t hesitate to post your positive comment. Your thoughtful response. Be brave. Be courageous. Speak love. Share a different view point with wisdom and responsibility. Defeat the peer pressure, that yes, still happens to 30, 40, 50 year olds who’ve made friends online.
I take this topic so seriously because it is the culture of our organization. It’s exactly how we have grown such a welcoming and non-judgmental Fire Wife Sisterhood. Kindness and respect. Only post what is encouraging. It doesn’t mean you can’t vent or dissent or ever have a day that isn’t perfect. Rainbow puking unicorns we are not. What we are is tough to describe. But what they practiced at TED to address the negative comments on this Monica Lewinsky talk titled “The Price of Shame” is the first place I have seen an organization verbalize how they effectively navigate the shift to the positive without compromising freedom of speech.
Nadia continues her explanation of their technique with this most wise, well crafted paragraph that says everything my heart is trying to pour into this article:
When we clearly show what is and is not acceptable, the tone does change. People who want to share thoughtful comments start to feel that theirs are welcome, and people who want to spew hatred start to realize theirs are not. It may not change people’s reactions, but it does change the sample of voices that chooses to speak up.
I think of that moment of sea change like a sort of herd immunity. The positive voices, when there are enough of them, keep abusive ones from spreading, just as a mostly vaccinated population protects those few people who are not. Together, we have the power to protect the most vulnerable among us.
It takes a community to do this.
Together we can shift the tides of conversation in a more positive, supportive, encouraging direction, without compromising the ability for freedom of speech to educate and expand our thinking.
As a community we are shifting the dynamics and growing and learning together. Perhaps that Negative Nelly is going to think twice about where, what and how she comments without feeling like running because there is something good here. Someone who reached out and says “I understand” and her defenses drop. It’s something she wants to be a part of. We want her to feel loved. We want her to be an independent thinker. We want to sharpen our own thoughts with expanding to the view of another. But my dears can’t we do that without using switchblades with our words? Can we do it with respect and kindness?
Would you say the same thing if you were standing right in front of the person?
Monica shares this in her talk:
We talk a lot about our right to freedom of speech, but we need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of speech.
Has there been a more judged woman in our society? Can you imagine the healing and learning she has gone through to come to this point where she is able to address this topic? Oh ladies learn from her.
I wonder who’s going to lead the charge with a much needed public service campaign on social media for good? Maybe one of these will inspire them.
Think before you post.
Don’t hate and post.
Like’s Up. Drama Down.
Or this one we use with our kids all the time:
Sorry if it sounds like I’m on a soapbox here. I am. I admit it. It’s just that I’ve seen too much damage done with negative social media and it’s time for a change.
So much good can come of it. Our entire organization started less than 3 years ago because of positive social media. Ladies have met people who will be their lifelong friends. Marriages have been strengthened. There’s too much good for me to get exhausted with a few ridiculous posts. And it hurts me to know some women have been hurt and stepped back from what could be good in their life. (If you need a positive community like ours check out the Fire Wife Sisterhood)
But this is not for me to do alone. Will you join me?
Can you help carry the true spirit of Brotherhood and Sisterhood and show the online world that the heroic firefighters and their supportive families are here to serve 24-7 COMMITMENT? In words and deeds.
Thanks for listening friends. If you see something differently I entirely welcome your respectful and kind different point of view. But I also encourage you all to step out and say something positive. Right now. Someone may be ready to quit and you are the inspiration they need to keep going.
Join a Positive Community
As an organization created from the positivity of social media, 24-7 COMMITMENT encourages growth in marriages, friendships, health, and family.
The Fire Wife Sisterhood and the Honor Guard are groups which have been created to connect firefighters and their loved ones across the country, and the world, to bring the good of the fire life together. And to help those struggling to find the good along the way.
For some more reading
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