I went in to get my teeth cleaned yesterday and I had a different hygienist than I typically do. I’d met her before– she usually does my older two kids’ teeth– but I’d never been in her chair. No worries. She’s very nice, and I’m really not very picky.
We chatted for a bit. Realistically, she chatted and I “mmm hmmm‘ed” a lot, because, you know, mouth wide open and all. But, at the end, we had a few minutes to chit-chat while I waited for the dentist to come in and check out all my chompers.
Now, during my cleaning, when she was essentially giving her monologue, I was listening and enjoying her stories. Among other things, she told me about an obsession with McDonald’s chicken nuggets, giving her son tons of chocolate soy milk for the good protein, and using really large amounts of stannous fluoride.
Here’s the thing.
I don’t do, enjoy, or believe in any of those things. And, if anyone really wanted my opinion and/or reasons, I could and would certainly provide them. Honestly, I have some strong feelings about at least a couple of those things.
So guess what I said? Guess what I shared and addressed just as soon as I was given the chance to speak?
Those of you who guessed “nothing relating to those issues” are absolutely correct. And why not? Because I didn’t need to. No one asked me and, honestly, it would have seemed kind of bizarre and awkward for me to suddenly lay into this woman because I didn’t agree with her.
But isn’t that what we all do online CONSTANTLY? Can you imagine if we behaved in person the way we do on the internet? Good gravy, it’d be ridiculous.
“Michael spiked a little fever after his shots yesterday. I felt so bad for the poor kid…”
“Vaccines are evil and horrible. I would NEVER expose my child to all those chemicals. You do realize that you’re just buying into Big Pharma’s lies, right? You clearly have no idea how many children are vaccine-injured. If you’d do some research…”
I don’t know anyone who’d do that. I really don’t. It would be an utterly bizarre interaction, not to mention rude and inappropriate, but that flies out the window when a screen is involved.
It’s not that I’m just so sweet and non-confrontational and that’s why I didn’t go all nuts about the soy milk yesterday… it’s that, when we’re face to face with people, we all tend to show some kindness and understanding that gets abandoned when we sit at a keyboard.
Did I tell her I thought chicken nuggets and chocolate soy milk sounded like an awesome snack I couldn’t wait to feed my kids? Of course not. There’s no need to lie.
I just let it pass on by me. Roll right off. I just didn’t address it.
This is a skill that is SO natural, to most of us, at least, when it comes to in-person encounters.
If we can do such a good job of just letting stuff roll off of us in person, why must we constantly confront or attack online? Arguably, it should be EASIER to just click away and forget about it. Honestly, if you really can’t stand the way someone lives, just stop reading about her! Truly, online relationships should be even simpler than the IRL variety.
Looking back, when I read blog comments from back in, oh, 2008? I actually see evidence of it online too. Not only did more people comment, but the comments seemed to fall more in the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, ….” camp.
I’d really, really like to bring that back.
Is anyone with me?