Don’t be a dick. Be kind. It’s that easy.

“She’ll be sticking her head in the oven by age 55.”

“Maybe she’ll get hit by a FedEx truck.”

“Fuck her… she does drugs.”

“Go fuck a gardener or something, bitch.”

These were just some of the remarks I read when a famous blogger reached out to online friends regarding a comment on one of her recent posts. “How do you think I should respond to this douchebag?” + a screenshot of the comment was all it took to ignite a crowdsourced lynch mob. The endeavor built upon itself, gathering speed like a giant boulder thundering down a mountainside. Dozens and dozens of comments denigrated a person who merely had a different perspective on life than the blogger.

While scrolling through the melee, my eyes pricked with tears. I realized that human beings, with our amazingly compassionate hearts, also have a remarkable capacity for cruelty. It launched me back in time to junior high. On any given Monday I’d have scads of friends. On Tuesday, no one would sit by me at lunch because someone whispered a rumor that I listened to the Carpenters and wore fake Keds. Being 13 kind of sucked, right? I’d like to think that we’ve evolved past the childish antics of vicious teenage girls.

Maybe not.

When did cultivating a community around name-calling become de rigeur? Was I absent from life the day they issued that memo? Good Lord, humanity has enough negativity surrounding it… enough to last until we blow each other to smithereens. Why do we feel the need to add to the massive pile of insults and contempt?

Is it that hard to be kind?

Have you noticed a far lean lately towards “edgy” writing? Topics are all about riling people up. Finished works are peppered with oh-so-thoughtful “fucks” and “goddammits.” Transparency and brutal honesty run rampant.

But does “edgy” give a person a license to be an asshole? To single someone out for merely disagreeing with an opinion? Do we write with the intent to simply have everyone nod their heads in enlightened agreement because of our magical words? Or are we writing to engage, to start conversations, to plant a few thought seeds?

In my world, “edgy” means that you’ve set your sights on changing the world and giving the middle finger to The Man.

Not a man. The Man.

What does being kind mean, anyways? Is it a chink in the armor? Are we not “standing in our power” when we show compassion? Is being thoughtful and gracious and open-minded now antiquated?

This I know: If being kind is perceived as being weak, then I want to rock out in the mosh pit of weakness with all of the other benevolent disruptors of the world.

People disagree with each other all the time. Hell… I guarantee that someone is going to read this very post and think, “This is total bullshit.” I’ll get a scathing reply about how I am being judgmental and hypocritical and know nothing about how this harsh world we live in works.

Fact: People are going to be jerks. Online and in real life. How do we handle it? Do we throw all of our energy at tearing them down and stringing them up like a piñata so everyone can cyber beat on them with their word sticks? Or do we let the jerks go on their merry way and focus on building people up?

Is it possible to merge badassery and kindness? I’d like to think so. Maybe it’ll be the new writing fringe, where people can challenge the status quo and not feel compelled to crush people in the process.

Writing words that people want to read involves having an opinion and a strong point of view. Be prepared for an alternate point of view in return. That’s how it works. When you want to call bullshit on something, clobber the idea all you want and back it up with solid reasoning.

Don’t clobber the person.

And if someone has a chip on their shoulder? Man… that doesn’t make them edgy, or cool or a badass who “gives zero fucks” about everything. It just makes them bitter.

I like hanging out with edgy people. I love it when people have the courage to challenge authority and ask important questions. I love it even more when I am able to finally let go of an old mindset and embrace a new idea because of something that someone wrote.

What I don’t like are mean people who think it’s okay to make fun of others, especially those who are unable to defend themselves. I recently purged my email list and social media accounts of anyone who feels the need to bash another human being. This mass exodus from my inbox has made space for writing that is truly edgy.

And kind.

I’m done with people’s attempts to stand out by being mean. I’m done with snark that cuts into people like a Ginsu knife.

And I’m done with the belief that kindness doesn’t matter anymore. It does.

Who’s with me?

To not being a dick,

Got a strong opinion on this? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.

8 comments leave a reply
  • March 12, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I’m with you, girl! And I love your canned email response, too.


    • March 20, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks, Beth! The world could certainly use all the kindness we can throw at it. 🙂


  • March 12, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Kudos for taking a stand on this, Maisie! (And I must say that I love that this kind of unfairness brings tears to your eyes!)

    It continues to surprise me how people can take the relative anonymity of the Internet as permission to broadcast things online that they wouldn’t otherwise say in real life. I think that asking oneself “Would I say this out loud if she were sitting across the table from me?” is a useful litmus test before clicking the Post button.

    Differing opinions and spirited debate? Great! Piling onto someone’s private lynching? Lame. As you say, being kind really isn’t that hard.


    • March 20, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      And I L-O-V-E a good spirited debate! More thoughtful opinions, less poisonous spite. Glad to have you on my side, dear Andy!


  • March 12, 2015 at 8:25 pm
    Naomi Liddell

    I got half way down this blog post and I’ve already loaded it into my Buffer app. I also curse like a sailor. But I’m a good person. I can’t abide by public vs person smackdowns. It’s not far from the days when we’d all go watch a good hanging together in the town square. Yuck.


    • March 20, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Right?! I’m so glad that this resonated with you, Naomi. To not being a dick!!!!!!!


  • March 12, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    “To not being a dick!” I’ll raise my glass to that.


    • March 20, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Cheers, Yoneco!


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