As we are ringing in the New Year and a new decade so many of us are making new goals and resolutions, me included. If you have followed my blog at all you know I struggle and live with anxiety and writing helps me deal and process some of my personal turbulence. So, this year I decided to take one positive word a week that someone has given me and write about it. I am hoping to gain skill and ability to adequately communicate and appeal to readers. My thoughts are that if I can become disciplined enough to do one word a week I will learn a rhythm, get a schedule of writing, editing and publishing that is not only interesting and appealing,but also sustainable for the shit show that I call my life (best shit show ever). This is a measurable goal; it is attainable, and it gives me accountability. I decided for my first entry of the year the word that best encompasses the reflection I want to see in the mirror- Kindness. I think it is one of the best characteristics a person can possess. It is something I would like to personify daily, but sometimes find myself behaving the opposite of kind. In today’s world there is so much hate, the internet has made it so easy to be snarky assholes to each other, sometimes I wonder if people still even know how to be kind~ it’s so easy not to be! Or has the reality of what kindness is changed with the internet, does kindness mean something else in person that it does on the internet? I think it’s important to start with the actual definition of kindness- so I got out my children’s dictionary as well as did a few internet searches.
Kindness is classified as a noun; it is the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate (per google search- because google knows all right?). My kids dictionary says: the quality or state of being gentle and considerate. Pretty much the same, but to me, it definitely feels more like an adjective… and it should be a verb! Kindness should be something we all actively do on a daily basis, it should be so ingrained in us that it is second nature…… I mean there are a million meme’s about it, right? I think for the most part people do kind acts everyday without thinking about it, I think the majority of people are kind. There are so many ways to show kindness and everyone has their own style. Maybe it’s because of my personal experience, but I notice often we are unkind to ourselves the most, and of all the people on earth, how we treat ourselves is what matters most. If we can’t be kind to ourselves how can we be kind to others? Unfortunately, I also think because of the de-personalization effect social media has created, people are misunderstanding intent because you can’t read tone in a thread. In reality, there are also people who are just dicks to each other because keyboards keep you safe from black eyes. Trolling has become a thing…. Everyone trolls a little here and there, but there is a difference between a little poking the bear and full on toxic troll. Luckily, I still have faith that the majority of humans are kind deep down, the world we live in can’t take it all away.
Kindness is the number one word suggestion I was given, everyone with the letter K said it. It is definitely something we all think about but what does it mean to live with kindness? The excerpt that peaked my interest talks about the difference between being nice and being kind and the comparison she makes is so relatable to me. Nice is safe, superficial, and takes little effort- it can be indifferent, critical or even sarcastic. Kind is hard- it means caring, it takes effort, and has an element of risk. Kind is beyond the superficial and has a deeper meaning and feeling; it is personal. This is my summary from a portion of A year of living Kindly by Donna Cameron. She also has a great blog @ ayearoflivingkindly.com. I love it because in today’s world, everything seems so negative and she is dedicated to living kindly and her page and posts are very positive feeling. The more I think about the word kindness I can’t help but think about not just what is my perspective of what kindness is but what about my perception of others kindness.
In the age of internet people seem to feel free to say anything to or about each other everyday I read at least one unkind comment, usually many more but even on Christmas I read someone acting like an asshat. There are the obvious unkind people but there are others who may just use questionable verbiage or say unkind things under the guise of being the funny one. It had me wondering if there was some sort of etiquette for online communication that I was not aware of, not that everyone cares about etiquette and there are definitely some who will intentionally go against it but I decided to research. I found a blog post on the Thomas Jefferson University page that describes Netiquette and outlined 10 guidelines.
- Remember the Human: treat each other the way you would in person
- Standards of Behavior: maintain the same moral and ethical behavior you would in person
- Know where you are: different sites have different codes of conduct
- Respect other people’s time: be brief and concise and do not expect an immediate response.
- Make yourself look good: avatars, word choice bios and other such things should convey the right message. Politeness is important (I had to include the whole explanation because the verbiage of this one just makes me kind of wrinkle my nose)
- Share expert knowledge: when sharing info online ensure it is good quality, true and helpful
- Keep flame wars under control: basically avoid protracted arguments
- Respect other people’s privacy
- Don’t abuse your power
- Be forgiving of others’ mistakes: give the benefit of the doubt.
Not a single one says kindness but several allude to it, the one that sticks out to me the most is #6 share expert knowledge…. Your expert knowledge is a part of you and if your actually sharing a part of you that is kind…. BUT if your just a know it all who only shares your “expert knowledge” to cause conflict that is not kind. #5 is just worded poorly or they really actually think you should put on a front, I am pretty sure it would have sounded a little better to say put forth your best you or be authentic….. Unless your a twat then go ahead and make yourself look better. I mean we all have our twatty days but in general people should have to pretend to be something they are not. #10 uses the word forgiving – forgiving is an act of kindness. It is kind to whomever you are forgiving but it’s even kinder to yourself to let go of the negative emotion… What I got most from this is that basically you should treat people online the way you would in person. So people with poor personal boundaries in person will really be a shit show on the new….I find on my personal social media I often walk a fine line with kindness even to our friends, I tend to post on hot button issues and I do it because of that constant search for perspective mostly but I do poke bears sometimes and I am unkind at times, I do think there is a time and a place for animated debate but I do not tolerate name calling or low blows, my private page is full of people I actually know in one way or another…. You can disagree and still be kind, being kind means being aware of others’ feelings. Kindness is as was the most suggested word on my list so everyone with the letter K said it…. But all the K’s were also female. Infact….. Most of the people who sent a word were female… So what are the social norms, what is considered normal and how can I promote kindness on a daily basis?
When I think of a random act of kindness first thing that comes to mind is paying for the person in line behind you which is very thoughtful and nice but feels a little superficially kind to me or maybe even just nice….. But if you talk about paying off student lunch debt, that carries a little more kindness- kids need food, the dude behind you won’t go hungry if you don’t pay for their beverage. Donating to the food bank vs volunteering in a soup kitchen. Giving the homeless person on the corner money vs necessities or food. In order to truly be kind you have to take a risk, step outside yourself and give- or at least that is my perception, you’re actively putting someone before yourself. Like each act of kindness is also an act of selflessness. I am a naturally nurturing person, I enjoy caring for people and the personal connection, caring for people makes me feel kind. Cooking for people makes me feel kind. Listening to people and not just hearing them makes me feel kind. Trying to understand and not just judge makes me feel kind. Sharing news stories that I know I can’t change but I can’t just ignore it; and maybe my share will be shared and something will come of it by raising awareness…some days it does make me feel kind because they matter, being kind means all people matter. A kind word from my heart to a person I know is struggling, letting someone know they are not alone is kind to me. Kindness is conscious, intentional and caring. But just because that is what it means to me does not mean I can assume my vision is the correct or only vision. The tools I have in my toolbox are not the same as the tools in yours so it is also my responsibility to recognize kindness in others because they will show it in their own way from wherever they are in life. The ones who are not kind are also the ones who need kindness the most.
If you hung in with me to the end, thank you. Please share your thoughts on kindness and please check back for more…… I have 51 to go.