I don’t think I need to tell you that there is a toxic social norm online called Cyberbullying. I’m sure we’ve all had our personal encounters with trolls and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking “Do these people actually act like this in real life?”
I’ve heard many stories of people being bullied online and in some terrible circumstances suicide was the end result. This destruction of human life needs to stop. We are all created with meaning, value, and purpose and far be it from me if I stand by and watch as the vulnerable amongst us are beaten down by the social norm of online verbal abuse.
I have thought a lot about how we can normalize life-giving relationships here at eY predicated on the belief (yes I’m going there) that everyone’s life, no matter race, religion, or creed, has meaning, value, and purpose. Because each person’s life is a treasure, it must be viewed as such and surrounded by relationships that are for betterment. I am so proud of what we are working towards because as a father of 4 it breaks my heart to know that kids are being bullied every day through communities that have such power to help, not destroy.
How do we make positivity something desirable? First, let me say we are one small piece in a much bigger picture and it will take more than eY to create this online shift. None the less we focus on what we do with strong conviction and keep moving forward. To be honest I don’t think we will truly know the answer to this question until we try. I do believe that communicating very clearly what we stand for is the first step. People want to know what’s expected of them. No one wants to be the person to show up in a banana costume when it’s a black-tie event.
The second step is to show people how to engage. Don’t ask them upfront to raise their hand, let them observe others so they can come to their own conclusions about how this can add value to their life. When we were introducing new foods to our younger children we wouldn’t force them to eat the entire portion. We would simply introduce them to the food by putting it on their plate, letting them play with it, smell it and eventually, they would taste it. If they didn’t like it that was ok. We would wait a few days and then reintroduce the foods with no pressure of “you have to eat it all”. Eventually, over time, they would eat more and more. This type of approach allowed them to make the decision within the context of knowing our expectations- that food is for eating. By using this type of approach we create a natural buy-in. I think in terms of relationships, we need to make encouragement and positivity not so uncomfortable. We want to see a world where this type of interaction is normalized.
So, the question needs to be asked, how can we, yes that means you too, create a positive social norm within your sphere of influence?