Monday, January 12, 2015

Choosing Kind

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love it 95% of the time. I can keep up with friends from long ago, talk to former teachers, meet colleagues that inspire from across the globe, and more. Because of social media I have become a write and have seen my writing published. I have connected with the parents of my students in a way that never would have happened. I can bring opportunities to my classroom that I never dreamed possible. All amazing things.

But there is a downside as well. The ugliness. I’ve written about it before and, I guess, I am again. You see I have to laugh at the attention the media pays to the habits of the young on social media. They get scolded for over-sharing, for being unkind, for spreading rumors. True, that happens. The ugly truth is, I see it with adults on a daily basis.

A friend recently posted he was tired of the “happy” Facebook. The one where everything is going well and no one is ever upset. I somehow don’t have the same Facebook when I log in, but I think I would be ok with it.

Recently I have logged on to see complaints ranging from the fact that we had no school for the cold, then the next day complaints that we had school when the weather was still cold. There are status updates bemoaning the type of teacher and coach a child has, the kind of friends they hang out with, the sportsmanship of another team or coach.

Here’s what I know to be true… (thanks, Oprah). I screw up, daily. I wake up everyday and hope that I will make someone’s day better. But I know with 100% certainty, I am not everything I could be to everyone each day. Sometimes I am a good teacher and a crappy mom. Sometimes it is the reverse. And while it is human nature to judge others, I try hard not to.

Yesterday I attended basketball games for both of my boys. In the second game I watched a player speak horribly to his coach, the players, and the ref. His mom began to do the same. She then yelled at a friend of mine because she felt that my friend was talking about her son. She was incredibly rude to the point of harassment for the rest of the game. I tried hard to just ignore her, but I was floored by the behavior.

Coming home, I went over all of the interactions. My energy was running high as I retold the events of the game to my husband, who hadn’t seen the interactions from the coach’s bench. I told him I thought I would email the principal to let them know what was going on in the name of their school.

Then, I slept on it. (Always a good choice.) The thing is, I don’t know that woman’s story. I don’t know what was going on in her head, what she’s dealing with. I don’t know why her son exhibited such poor sportsmanship. And I realized that her story has nothing to do with me, and I don’t need to involve myself in it anymore. No email is necessary.

I think we – and I am including myself in this – do a great job of pointing out other’s faults. We don’t do as good of a job in pointing out what has been done well. I am much more likely to get an email from a parent telling me what their child said went wrong the day before. I am less likely to get an email from a parent just saying they heard the day before went well.

We are all busy, so maybe this isn’t surprising, but I think we can do better. I plan on continuing to use social media to share a positive message. And I plan on thanking people whenever I can. It’s easy to put people down, much harder to intentionally lift others up. I’m going to continue to work on that one. Maybe you can join me?