Take a moment to think about the last time you were having a bad day. Were you irritable to be around, maybe short with your loved ones? Did you maybe not let that person into your lane in traffic? Now think about the last time you were really happy. Did you smile at people who passed you by, gave someone a compliment, or maybe expressed gratitude towards a loved one?
Chances are you had a few instances come to mind for each of these scenarios, because happiness and anger are emotions that we feel on a regular, if not daily, basis.
Now think of a time when someone else yelled at you or honked at you on the highway, maybe even flicked you off. And the last time a stranger said hello and smiled at you or someone truly made you feel special. How did these instances make you feel? Probably pretty shitty in the former scenario and pretty buoyant and happy in the latter.
The thing is, our emotions influence those around us. Not just in a short-term, fleeting way, but also in a long-term way, as reported by NPR’s Morning Edition. This is the case for both positive and negative emotions, but studies have shown that negative emotions typically have a more significant impact since we tend to focus on them more.
I have certainly been that person who let my bad day get the best of me and did something that I immediately regretted. I have also been on the receiving end of an angry outburst and it felt truly horrible. When I heard this piece on Morning Edition I couldn’t help but nod along as they spoke about anger in the social media space. I feel like rarely a day goes by where we don’t hear about someone spewing hateful things on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook.
Since we are behind a screen we don’t think of normal social queues when we communicate on social media. This is because we don’t visually see the impact our words have on the person who is reading them. But words read impact in the same way as words spoken, especially words that are out there for everyone to read, forever.
Folks, our words matter. What we say and write every day can have significant affects on those who receive them. It can change their thinking in a dramatic way, as discussed in the story shared in the piece about Michael Beatty and Patton Oswalt. One small act of kindness can create a significant impact, while one small act of anger can truly hurt. Stop and think before you speak, because once you do, you can’t take them back.
I have a sticky note hanging up next to my computer that states you are responsible for the energy you bring into this world. It is my little reminder to think before I speak and choose kindness and love over anger and hate.
Studies have shown that there are psychological benefits to our bodies to being kind and showing gratitude. We need more love and kindness in this world, today maybe more than ever.
How can you play a part in combating the pervasive anger that is spread on social media?