We see and hear it all the time.
The Golden Rule.
People use the saying to refer to the way a person should interact with the people around them. Parents use it as a guideline in good manners for their children.
Though we tend to associate the rule with Christian teachings, some version of the saying can be found in the study of almost any tradition and culture.
Confucius is noted to have said, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”
In Buddhism it is written, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” The words and their order vary, but the sentiment remains: Don’t do something to someone else that you would not want done to you.
With an idea being in existence for so long and being so widely accepted as a basic and integral part of human interaction, people should be accustomed to weaving this idea into each aspect of their lives.
It shouldn’t matter with whom you’re interacting or why. Treat others as you wish to be treated. You always should use it as a guideline for the way you conduct yourself.
And yet, people seem to completely forget it when it comes to online interactions.
As the Internet continues to eliminate the isolation that distance once gave us, it also continues to create a sense of indifference to the people with whom we are connecting.
It’s an amazing thing – the ability to instantly connect with someone miles away when in the past, a letter or long distance phone call would have had to suffice. We can connect from anywhere, and more quickly than ever. Most of the time, all you need is a mobile device and a phone signal, and you can post a comment to YouTube or tweet a thought as soon as it comes into your head.
As much as I love the Internet, I sometimes wonder if being connected so easily and so endlessly is good or bad.
Too many times, people post things online that they never would say to someone face to face. It’s almost as if we forget that we’re speaking with actual living, breathing individuals just like ourselves.
For every comment on YouTube praising the talents of a person who had the courage to upload a video of their singing, there are numerous others spouting negativity and ridicule.
People post homophobic and racist slurs without a second thought. The effect on people’s feelings and life experiences is not considered.
Regardless of whether you’re discussing a funny picture on Reddit or commenting on a serious article on a news site, you’ll always find these people. They hide behind their keyboards and anonymous screen names while being horrible to anyone trying to have a legitimate discussion. They feed off the reactions their animosity brings and revel in the disruptions they cause.
Don’t be one of them.
As easy as it is to post before thinking, do the thinking anyway. Break away from the stereotype that everyone is a jerk online just because some of them can be.
You never know the impact your words will have on someone.
Learn to stop and think before clicking that submission button. Think, not only how your words will affect the person or people you are addressing, but also how those words would reflect on you if you were held accountable for them.
In the end, it’s much better to be the person who positively impacts someone else rather than ruining his or her day or making an already bad situation even worse. We have more than enough of the latter. Make the choice to be the former.
Do unto others.