Be kind

When did we stop being kind?

Social media has removed kindness from us. Too many folks feel that, since they are not face-to-face with someone, they can say anything they want. And occasionally that brazenness has extended to real life, building a wedge in their relationships.

I’m not saying that we should get off social media entirely. That’s where I keep up with my extended family, find interesting recipes, and have a chuckle or two. Facebook was explained to me like a cocktail party, where you go in, smile at a few people, listen to some conversations, add a comment when appropriate, and then leave.

I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what I do at a party and online. There are often people I want to talk with, places where my opinion will add to the conversation, and jokes I want to enjoy, both in person and online.

But when something gets ugly or someone says something hurtful, I turn away and get out of there, whether at a friend’s house or following someone on Facebook. Life is hard enough without putting up with a person who hurts others or doesn’t guard their tongue. And I know who to avoid in the future.

Unfortunately, there’s little we can do to change others’ attitudes and actions. But we don’t need to hang around and encourage them.

Since we can’t change others, let’s change ourselves. Before speaking (or posting), ask, “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” Socrates came up with that litmus test a few years back, but it holds true today.

“Is it true?” All too often, rumors get spread, mostly because something sounds sensational. But verify your source before you post that unbelievable story or share it with a friend. Gossip is still gossip and, according to the Book of Proverbs, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:28, NIV)

“Is it kind?” I have a hard time posting a bad review even when I’ve gotten bad service. Maybe the waitress wasn’t feeling well or the auto repair shop was overbooked, but that doesn’t mean I want to ruin their business. Remember what your parents said: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

“Is it necessary?” All too often, we think of something to add to a conversation but we rarely stop to consider if it needs to be said. Just because I know a tidbit doesn’t mean I have to share it with everyone. Some things are better left unsaid, especially if they’ll hurt the hearer.

Being gentle is easy to do. That old “Do to others what you would have them do to you” was true when the Apostle Luke wrote it (Luke 6:31, NIV) and it’s still true today.

So, next time you want to spout off, be gentle. If it’s not true, kind, and necessary, keep it to yourself.

‘Nuff said. i