May 19--Most people growing up are taught manners by their parents: Respect your elders, say please and thank you and the classic, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
Basically they all fall under the golden rule of treat others how you would want to be treated.
But there's something about the internet that makes that all go away ...
Social media is great for a good many things, but finding an abundance of civility is not generally one of them. In local online forums such as the popular "Easley Community Here and Now" and "What's happening in Liberty, SC" -- both on Facebook -- you can find discussions ranging anywhere from local restaurant reviews and recommendations for auto repair to postings for lost and found pets.
There's typically posts either praising or disparaging local law enforcement, people complaining about their rising power bills and lamenting that there's "still not a McDonald's in Liberty!"
Also to be found? Rumors. Rumors galore.
Every other week there is a new comment thread concerning when a Target is coming to Easley and what in the world is being built behind Walmart on 123?
It's not, and high end apartments. You're welcome.
But more and more often pages like these are being used for personal attacks.
Instead of an unfavorable review of a local business, people will simply take matters into their own hands and suddenly what would normally be a simple "buyer beware" kind of post turns into "So-and-so is a thief!"
People rant and rave about their neighbor's unkempt yards, dogs escaping and running loose or late trash pick up and it occurred to me the vast majority of these problems could be solved if people just took the time to communicate with each other -- in person.
If your neighbor needs to mow the grass, instead of running them down online, how about you go knock on their door? Be polite, ask if you can help. After all, maybe there's a reason they haven't gotten to it: perhaps they're injured or maybe their mower is broken.
Maybe they would love to cut their grass if only they could find someone to watch the kids for an hour.
You never know.
If there's a dog running loose on your street, tell the owner.
I remember a few years ago we had a lady leave a note on our door about our dog escaping the fence while we were at work. The thing is, had she not left the note, we wouldn't have known because he was always back inside by the time we returned home.
Were we angry for her "getting into our business?" No, we were grateful and we fixed our fence. Problem solved -- but it wouldn't have been if she had just ranted about us on some online chat room.
Social media is designed to bring us together socially -- hence the name -- but sometimes I think it drives us further and further apart.
A computer screen is a poor substitute for human interaction so the next time you have something to say about someone -- say it to them -- not about them.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at email@example.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper's opinion.
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