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How to Be Kind Online—What Our Parents Couldn’t Teach Us By Gabriella van Rij

Posted by admin on March 31st, 2017

Categories : Uncategorised

Industry : Technology

Have you ever wanted to quit social media? At times, when I see the awful things people post as comments, it makes me want to throw my hands up in the air! And we’re all guilty. When we see anything we don’t like, or that we don’t agree with, or that makes us mad, we jump the gun. We don’t take a moment to think… We simply REACT! And we post our unfiltered opinions for the world to see. Because we believe we are right and it is up to us to set everyone in the online world straight! Sound familiar?

The root of the problem? Most of us learned etiquette at our parents’ knees. Through observation or admonition, we learned to greet people with a smile. To shake hands. To not interrupt a conversation. To always bring a gift when visiting another’s house. The list goes on and on. However, for many of us, our parents did not grow up with social media; so they could not teach us what online etiquette looks like or how to learn to navigate our online social world properly.

The result? We behave in ways we would not dream of behaving if we were face to face with people. We use these platforms not only to express our opinions but also to vent our anger and frustrations of our everyday lives. Now, I am not going to say all technology is good or bad. I personally love the fact that I am able to talk with someone a world away and reconnect with them through social media. That is fantastic! But I do see the need for us to be a bit kinder to ourselves and others, both online and off.

My motto is #DareToBeKind, and I always say, “Kindness only grows more Kindness.” If you want to see more kindness online, it starts with each of us. Here’s how we can begin to grow kindness in our own lives—and through that, start a ripple effect that will reach many others.

Don’t use social media as a source of validation.

We often turn to social media for validation. We want people to agree with our take on things because we want to excuse our behavior, our thoughts, or our actions. But looking for validation from social media is not a good source because often people will only agree with your take on things and not help you come up with a solution. Don’t use social media as a place to vent or to refresh yourself. If you know you need a boost mentally, emotionally, or physically, start with taking care of yourself.

Be less reactive.

That person who responds curtly in an email. That weird comment online. Your co-worker who is being impatient: Take a moment to step back and think about the emotion that is motivating their behavior, which will help curb your own reactive tendencies and prevent you from being reactive in your response. Communicate to their emotion instead of reacting. And this goes for all our interactions with everyone, not only our interactions online. When someone is being rude, don’t sink low yourself. If you live in a reactive state, you are living your life for others, not yourself. Make kindness your choice in all your interactions, online or off.

Pause before posting.

When communicating online or via text, always pause before posting. This is important because there is an absence of facial cues and body language to help convey what you want to say, so taking a moment to reread what you wrote will make sure you are being as clear as possible. Not only will you catch typos that way, but you will also give yourself the opportunity to filter out unnecessary words and phrases that could be misconstrued.

Shine a light on the good.

With all the negativity aired on social media, you can stand out by sharing and commenting on the good. When someone posts an encouraging post for someone else, acknowledge their thoughtfulness. When you see people respond in a positive way, praise their doing so. I promise, you can’t show kindness without feeling happier and lighter in your mind and body as a result. Studies have proven there is a correlation between the action of kindness and the emotion of happiness.
May I leave you with one last thought? We all love to be the recipient of kindness – whether food, gifts, or money – but we hesitate when it comes to giving it. But kindness is the only free thing we have to give.


The leading voice of the Kindness movement, Gabriella van Rij ( is a speaker, author & activist for kindness whose presentations blend humor, original analogies and her life story to create a rare perspective-shifting experience that speaks to all and that provides the tools audiences need for more productive relationships. She has published three books, With All My Might, her autobiography. I Can Find My Might is her autobiography for children. Watch Your Delivery is her third and latest book on the secrets to effective communication. Gabriella has been seen by millions on Dr. Phil, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. She is a member of Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.

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