The internet has provided us with a myriad of comforting places full of so much positivity. We’ve created spaces online where we can meaningfully connect with others, and we’ve found networks for hobbies and interests that bring us alive. We’ve used sites and platforms to pursue passion projects, launch dreams, stay connected with our families and host fundraisers to benefit causes that are changing the world.
We all know there’s a dark side to the internet, too, the side that is full of hate and judgment and cruel commenting made from anonymous accounts. We’ve witnessed the negative impact that this type of darkness has had on people all over the world, ranging from company CEOs and world leaders to middle school children and bloggers.
But there’s a middle ground that we don’t talk about quite as much, the space in between the positive and negative that’s a little grayer. We’ll call this the passive space, the place where comments are made in a way to veil the true intent of the post while communicating a different subtext, one rooted in complaint. You’ve seen this, right? There’s a certain type of post floating around the world wide web on a daily basis, one that revels in the greatness of something while simultaneously making a passive, less obvious remark that reveals an underlying complaint or frustration. This passive aggressive perspective is one that we’ve observed over time, and it’s something we haven’t quite known how to address.
There’s a certain type of post floating around the world wide web on a daily basis, one that revels in the greatness of something while simultaneously making a passive, less obvious remark …
Let us first clarify something: We are all about carving out spaces where we can be honest, places where we can reveal the things in life that are hard and trying and difficult. We want to encourage others and remind ourselves of the importance of finding healthy ways to vent to people about the things that are going on in our lives that are challenging.
But what we want in addition to that is a real sense of transparency, honesty and openness. Instead of true vulnerability, what we’re more commonly seeing is a veiled commentary hidden behind perfectly styled posts, cutesy coffee cups and darling babies (who look so adorable and healthy but “just wouldn’t sleep last night”). We know what people are trying to say when they make these posts, and we know we’ve made these very same posts ourselves in the past. But what we’ve realized is that these passive aggressive updates aren’t communicating our true intentions or bringing us together in any positive way. Instead, they could cause us to look ungrateful for the things we have, and they might be preventing a real attempt to seek out companionship, help and advice when we need it.
So, here’s what we’re thinking: Instead of being tempted to share something that’s partially positive with a subtext of ingratitude or frustration, let’s be real online and talk about what’s been difficult for us. Let’s straight up say “this thing is hard” instead of “this thing is so, so, so wonderful but maybe it’s frustrating me just a little bit and if you ask me about it further I might share, but otherwise I’ll pretend everything is mostly all right.” Let’s not worry about what the response from our online community might be and instead present our struggles, great or small, with honesty and clarity.
Let’s turn away from our screens and turn toward the people in our real lives who can provide us with support in the form of a lunch date or a phone call or a big old hug.
Or maybe we need to take this search for support one step further and lean on the people in our lives who can physically meet us where we’re at by providing us with the emotional help we need, whether we’re dealing with a daily frustration or a life-altering crisis. Let’s turn away from our screens and turn toward the people in our real lives who can provide us with support in the form of a lunch date or a phone call or a big old hug. Rather than solely relying on our internet communities to bring us the validation and help we need, let’s look to our home teams, our networks of people who can provide us face time in the truest sense of the phrase.
We would love to hear what you think about this topic. Are you craving the same sense of emotional authenticity and vulnerability in your communities, both online and in the real world?
Image via Monica Outcalt