It is hard to teach compassion when I can’t find it in my own heart. As a believer in the power of social media I also believe that it has the potential to promote hate and injustice, and to disturb one’s own ability to express compassion. What should our personal policies be when addressing online bullying, rudeness, and hateful speech?

Tonight, for the first time in months, I hit the unfriend and block buttons on Facebook. It wasn’t a stranger, but someone I knew from a Church I once attended. I loved the Church, the Priest, and the people. I think my life is better for knowing them. At some point, if a person is continually posting things that are unkind, uncharitable, and promote hate of a group of people, what should be done? The reality is that without blocking the person’s content it will show up in one’s social media feed and one’s friends will also be exposed to it. I do not want to be responsible for exposing anyone to rudeness, bullying, or hateful speech.

Despite the fact that I want to be compassionate and I hope to promote compassionate policy, social media at times gives me compassion fatigue. While feeling especially fatigued this week I developed this rubric that reminds me when too much is too much and I must just admit that a friendship isn’t worth the impact it is having on me emotionally and spiritually.

I have been very disheartened by the last week. I was sad about the election and the nastiness of the campaigns, but it is the behavior that has followed that is disheartening. Both sides are posting uncharitable information. And both sides are behaving in ways that should not be acceptable. In a civil society there are things we can do to show our displeasure:

  • Peacefully protest
  • Register to vote and then go vote
  • Volunteer to address the issues that most concern you (abortion, guns, women’s rights, climate change, poverty, living wage)
  • Educate yourself on how our government works
  • Serve in the government, run for office, volunteer for a campaign
  • Know the name of your representatives and make sure they know yours

What isn’t acceptable is:

  • Intimidation
  • Racism, sexism, etc.
  • Bullying
  • Showing a complete lack of compassion for the pain of others
  • Doing nothing, but complaining anyway

Social Media Policy for Addressing Bad Behavior

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