Whatever Happened to Compassion?
Every day on the internet, people share what is going on in their life or opinion on some topic. Some of these posts result in respectful dialogue, but more and more often I witness people inserting their own judgments, arguing with the original poster, or complaining about the post or poster.
And it isn’t just the trolls that I’ve seen do this. Trolls do seem to exist everywhere; trolls whose goal in life is to make others as unhappy as they are. Sometimes, though, it is our own friends and acquaintances who pass judgment on something we choose to express.
I wonder what has happened to us as people. Has the internet created a space where we are as rude as we want without thinking of others? Does kindness no longer have any meaning? Has the internet turned into a place where you can no longer express an opinion without being told you are wrong? Have people forgotten that words have consequences and affect others?
There are days when I don’t feel free to express frustration with my girls on Facebook because someone will inevitably tell me that I should appreciate them. It’s as though they assume I don’t. I do. I love my girls with my whole heart and am grateful that I was blessed with two amazing little girls. However, there are times I need to vent and share my frustration in a “safe” environment (and not on my girls). I’m looking for support and compassion, not judgement and reprimand.
It has gotten to the point that one can’t complain about morning sickness and pregnancy without someone saying “At least you can get pregnant. You should be grateful.”
You can’t complain about something your kids did because you’ll hear “You should be grateful that you have kids!” or “You’ll miss these days. Just keep a smile on your face and relish these moments.”
You can’t grumble about your struggles with infertility or illness without someone telling you that you should feel blessed with what you have already.
You can’t moan about a significant other without someone saying, “At least you have someone who loves you. You should appreciate him or her.” or “He or she could die or leave you like mine did me.”
You can no longer share your happiness without someone criticizing you for “rubbing your joy in their face.”
You can no longer do anything or post anything without someone lodging some sort of complaint. If you complain, you need to appreciate what you have. If you appreciate what you have, then you are boastful. It’s a no-win situation.
Whatever happened to compassion? What happened to people letting friends vent and showing support to each other? What happened to being happy for our friends and acquaintances when something good happens to them or they feel good? Why do we feel this need to comment and opine on everything everyone does anymore?
Personally, I’m tired of the negativity and constant judgement. When you judge someone or tell them they don’t think the right way, even if you believe you are being supportive, you have lost empathy for that person and their circumstances. Instead, you reflect your own concerns and thoughts on them. I believe that without empathy, you can’t be compassionate. You need to be able to understand where the person is coming from before you can show them you care and support them; you need to remove yourself from the situation and only see them.
I believe there is hope and love out there. I believe compassion exists and all people are capable of expressing it, even trolls on the internet. But to do so, we need to take the time to listen to each other instead of just reacting. We need to show each other love and support (and learn to bite our tongues when appropriate).
Just this week, I witnessed compassion. A Facebook friend of mine lost her husband to his battle with the depression and PTSD resulting from his time as a Marine in the Gulf. No one judged what he did to end his pain. Instead, they rallied behind my friend to show her love and support. They prayed for her, offered help, and let her know that he was loved and would be missed.
We all can show compassion. Maybe it’s time we start, whether online or in our real-life interactions with people, even people we do not know. Today is a day dedicated to compassion. Let’s start now by speaking up for compassion! The best way to do it is to act compassionate to others, online and off.