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Hating on Social Media – #NOTOK

Recent activities in Charlottesville and Seattle have been widely reported in the media and particularly on social media. What I have read and heard the last few days sickens me, and I agree with many that it is important,–no, vital–that we stand up and say in a clear voice, “Hate is not OK!”. Not OK in our communities, on our streets, and not OK on social media.

In order to say that, we have to look into our own hearts too. Are we guilty of helping this hate storm grow? Hate reflected back on the giver only fuels more hate.

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” –Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Those words are as true now as they were in 1958.

Am I angry about the rise of hate in America and around the world today? You bet your booty!
I am:

  • Physically sick reading/hearing/watching the hate filled messages on social media.
  • Sick of watching the media inflate it to a fever pitch for the sake of ratings.
  • Seeing fake news compiled on top of it all.
  • Disappointed that those who bear so much hatred in their hearts feel emboldened by the actions (or inaction) of our president.
  • Sad to see people I respect lured into the fray, bringing their own rage to the forefront, feeding the frenzy.
  • Sad to see people banning even family, friends and loved ones from seeing their social posts, in part because they don’t want to see the hateful responses, in part out of not wanting to have difficult discussions.
  • Troubled to see myself responding with anger, sharing stories and swapping judgments, followed by remorse and sadness.

Hateful responses may be used to recruit others who are on the sidelines to come forth and add to the hate groups’ power. Every time they push your buttons and you go off? It’s a win for hate. They’ve incited hatred in you, and they’ve gained power. Power that is admired by their followers and their own egos. Without the outrage and attention, they lose their luster. Forgiveness and compassion weaken hate.

Let me be clear. I do not have an answer.
I don’t think there is one answer to solve it all and then we dance together singing Kumbaya with daisies in our hair. What I do believe is; returning hate with more hate only escalates the maelstrom we find ourselves in. We all lose.

I look to many who have gone before us throughout history for giudance, combatting hate with love, kindness, compassion. Archbishop Desmond Tutu,  Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, Malala Yousafzai and so many regular people have shown great compassion in difficult times. We have much to learn from them all.

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” –Nelson Mandela

People do not hate for no reason.
They hate because of mistrust, pain, real or implied wrong-doing, days, years or generations of misinformation. Hate magnifies the issues we face and narrows our vision so we only see and hear that one thing. We are beyond reason, data or facts that don’t line up. We are going to have to spend more time listening, having open conversations about what is wrong in America (and around the world) to understand how to make it better. Call me a snowflake if you will, but dialog has to happen.

To open minds we are going to have to spend more time listening, having open conversations about what is wrong in America (and around the world) to understand how to make it better. Call me a snowflake if you will, but dialog has to happen.

Peace comes when you talk to the guy you most hate. And that’s where the courage of a leader comes, because when you sit down with your enemy, you as a leader must already have very considerable confidence from your own constituency“. -Desmond Tutu

What can we do to combat hate on social media?

Author and activist Arno Michaelis turned his life around from a leader in the white supremacy movement to an activist for peace and understanding because of the acts of kindness from the very people he thought he despised. Kindness and compassion worked miracles.

  • Stop fighting hate with hate. Right now.
  • Stand together against hate, sharing a common bond, even forgiveness, as they did in Manchester, Portland, Orlando, and Charleston and many other places around the world.
  • Practice kindness, especially when it’s hard.
  • Stop judging based on the surface of a person, or what others say.
  • Bring compassion forward, find it in your heart to find the core of good in humanity.
  • Recognize that everyone, even those who seem filled with hatred, wants to be happy, to feel safe, to be free of worry and stress in their lives, just like you.
  • Avoid posting and resharing the hate and the stories about the haters. That reflects on YOU as well as the originator. Is that your legacy?
  • The same goes for sharing their manifestos and emails, the images of them in all their imagined glory. It only fans their ego.
  • Resist banning, blocking and dismissing those who have differing opinions. Start those difficult conversations with a wish to understand, with compassion.
  • Trolls are trolls. If they are trying to get a rise out of your and your friends simply ignore them. They’ll go away when taunting you isn’t fun.
  • If threats of violence are made, or things are getting out of hand, don’t respond. Report it to the platform it is posted on and/or the authorities.
  • Don’t take risks if you see something dangerous happening. Breathe, think, then act.

Perhaps like you I am guilty of knee-jerk responses and flashes of anger in response to all of this. I’m going to do better. I hope you will try with me. Together we can do so much good.