Remember the movie Bambi?
It’s a cute movie with some seriously real death and maybe a few outdated ideals. But that’s all beside the point. The one quote I’d like everyone to remember is this:
In case you’re on your phone and you’re pushing your monthly bandwidth, or you’re not a fan of video, or you’ve just crawled out from under a technology rock and for some reason can’t get to YouTube… the above is a video of Thumper as a baby bunny saying:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
There are a lot of topics up for debate on the Internet. Some are very worthy discussions to have. Healthy, educated debate helps drive our collective intelligence forward.
And then there are the other posts where people offer their shitty opinions just because it’s the first thing that pops into their heads, and they’ve forgotten the wise words of Thumper.
I give you exhibit A: In a mommy group, a mother posts an adorable picture of her smiling baby. The caption is, “She’s 6 months today! I can’t believe how fast the time is flying!” There are lots of comments that say, “Awwww”, and “How precious”, and “Amazing, isn’t it?”
And then there’s the Anti-Thumper who just has to weigh in with: That onesie is way too small.
Now, on to exhibit B: A beautiful woman in her early 40s posts a picture of herself sitting near the beach. She looks fabulously well-put-together. She’s smiling. Radiant. She’s holding a glass of champagne. Next to her is an empty chair, and the caption is: “I’m holding a seat for you!”
Her friends weigh in: “You looks stunning!” and “I’ll be right there!” and “Love you!”
And then there’s that “well-meaning” person who thinks they are Thumper… who thinks they are saying something really caring when they say, “Please stop smoking. Cancer is really ugly.”
Dear Anti-Thumpers: No one wants your shitty opinion. If you have something degrading, condescending, or critical to say, save it for in-person conversations, or at the very least, private message the person and discuss your criticisms of their life choices away from threads that offer joy to the world.
See, here’s the rub: Your comment doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t serve a greater good. It doesn’t change the recipient’s behavior. All it really does is make you look like the arrogant busybody who has to weigh in and be “right” on every front.
Social media is, by its very nature, a self-centered medium for expression. We post pictures of ourselves, our children, our lives… hell, we take snapshots of our food and post it like its mere appearance is going to be life-shattering to the viewers. However, wrapped into those self-centered posts, social media has presented us all with a gift. It has become a wonderful tool for seeing old friends’ faces who I just want to squish and kiss and tell them how much I’ve missed them.
When our friends bring joy to our lives by allowing us a glimpse into their own, and we scan down the comments to add our joy, and we see your shitty opinion splayed out in all its condescending glory, just know that we don’t agree with you. We think you’re trying to stir shit and nothing more.
You see, when you stir the shit pot, you’re not being helpful. You’re not offering sage wisdom. And the person on the other end of your shitty opinion has no chance to see your face, read your body language, or respond in any way that makes your remarks meaningful. Then, you get to disappear from the conversation if it turns ugly. You don’t have to even face the person you’ve just insulted, degraded, or criticized. You get to meld back into the Internet like nothing happened.
In other words, your shitty opinion is hurtful, no matter how much you lead with, “With all due respect.” (Even though most of you don’t even go that far.) And your lack of accountability makes it all that much worse. It makes me wonder: Would the Anti-Thumpers offer their opinions if anonymity and/or screen separation were not factors?
So, before posting on that picture of the family trip to a place you wouldn’t dream of visiting, or the video of the kid doing something you might not allow, ask yourself: Am I being a Thumper, or an Anti-Thumper? If you’re not saying something nice, then don’t say nothin’ at all. And if you can’t help yourself, then at least do you your friend the courtesy of discussing your issue in person, over the phone, or at the very least, in a private message.
Debate all you want on the debatable issues… but when it comes to pictures of cute babies who have slightly outgrown mom’s favorite onesie, keep that shitty opinion to yourself. Nobody wants to hear it.