"One of my New Year's Resolutions (I have several others) is to be more kind, respectful, and charitable in my online interactions.
Social media represents a manner and stage of communication that society has yet to fix particular values of etiquette towards that are well understood by the majority. Contrary to face-to-face engagement, indicators of tone, facial expression, and body language are all but absent when messaging from behind a screen. Many experience a feeling of safety and isolation that can cause them to speak in a way that they would never imagine if in front of the person they are conversing with.
We've all seen it, and perhaps even participated in it. Interactions that are less-than-polite, are scathing, are snarky, and are condescending are all too common on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and others.
Seeing as I tend to focus on religious, spiritual, philosophical, political, or social topics for the majority of my posts, these kinds of interactions by both myself and others have certainly taken place at times.
So for 2018 I'm repenting and pledging the following:
I will not return snark for snark online.
I will ignore negative individuals, and if I must respond I will not do so out of anger.
I won't feed the trolls or be a troll.
I will extend the benefit of the doubt, assume good intent, and be charitable.
I'll be quicker to agree to disagree.
I'll remember that I am speaking to an actual person with actual feelings and experiences.
I won't write a comment at another's expense.
I will treat others how I wish to be treated.
For this night and all the nights to come, this is my resolution for 2018.
Who else wants to join me? We can make the internet a more compassionate and positive place! 😊"
Jaxon is a friend of mine even though I'm jealous of him for being 19 and much smarter than me. And he is nothing if not kind, respectful, and charitable in his online interactions. Me? Not so much. I know that I have often been a jerk here and elsewhere and undoubtedly will continue to be, though in my defense I've been through a lot of crap and it's very difficult to be polite to people who are less intelligent than the dirt under my toenails. Not naming any names. I do think I've gotten a little better each year and I'll have to be satisfied with that rate of progress for now because surprisingly enough I have even more glaring defects to work on first. So while I would like to join Jaxon in this resolution, I have to start with smaller, more manageable ones, like flapping my arms and flying to the moon. I am grateful to all the friends who have tolerated my immaturity for so long.
We talked about resolutions/goals in Sunday school, and marriage in the temple was brought up as an example. Despite the stereotypes we don't actually talk about marriage very often and that's fine with me. I didn't say anything, since I don't want to be a jerk and derail lessons - actually, I do, but I let my better nature prevail - but I don't think marriage is a good goal, simply because I don't think one should make goals that are largely dependent on other people's choices over which one has little or no control. It's the same principle as missionaries not setting goals for a certain number of baptisms. So I think marriage is a fine aspiration, a fine thing to work toward and prepare for, but not a goal as such. As I mentioned, a missionary in Nigeria is, on his own initiative, praying for God to bless me with a nice wife to help me with exaltation. I'm immensely touched that someone wants that for me more than I want it for myself. I have never prayed for a wife. I think he's wasting his breath and should pray for something more reasonable, like world peace, but I'm keeping an eye out for spaceships just in case.
Thomas S. Monson
August 21, 1927 - January 2, 2018
Since he disdained the notion that "all you need is love", I'm not sure how he'd feel about this, but his legacy in my mind and probably in millions of other minds will be summed up as "loving". The great love radiating from him whenever he spoke was obvious even to one so emotionally stunted as I. It was obvious even when I questioned the truth of the things he was saying. I couldn't doubt his sincerity for a moment. He loved all people the way I love people who don't piss me off. And he showed it, most importantly, not just with his words but with his actions of ministering and uplifting individuals throughout his life even as he became busier and busier and older and older. He treated all people the way I treat people who don't piss me off. You can tell he was a great man because the New York Times made his obituary a hit piece, with none of the admiration they reserve for pimps and murdering dictators.
In case you haven't noticed, I am not a fan of the current U.S. President. However, I want to give him credit where it's due for being brave enough to say something classy for a change even though it annoyed several of the evangelicals who voted for him. If he started behaving like this all the time, I would forgive the past and revise my opinion of him considerably.
And of course the other main thing Thomas S. Monson will be remembered for is this: