Dear Keyboard Warrior

An Open Letter to All the Keyboard Warriors of this World:

There’s not much to unite us these days. Everyone takes a side on any matter at hand and is convinced that their side is the right one while the other is dead wrong. It doesn’t matter how serious or how insignificant the topic is … politics and religion are clearly hot topics, as is any topic in parenting, but even one’s tastes in movies and TV shows can be a cause for division.

And there is something about being behind a screen that creates a need to defend your opinion with a fervor that may not come out face to face. Behind the screen, you become brave to say things that you would have only thought before. Behind the screen, your filter is gone and those words get typed out and put into the universe without a second thought.

To you, dear keyboard warrior, I implore you to consider a few things before you go waging battle with your friends, loved ones, and even strangers using words sharper than any sword.

Pause and think.

Before you post, stop and think. Close the app; log off of the computer. I know you’re upset by what you’ve seen. But before you post, consider the intentions behind whatever was written that has fired you up. Chances are, no one has set out to offend you. If you’re truly convinced that this was the case, respond, but give yourself a chance to calm down and say things with a level head instead of responding in a fury. Use your words wisely. You can defend your position and ideals without tearing down a person and assassinating their character. 

You are talking to a real person.

If this point seems fairly obvious, forgive me. But words like the ones you are using make me think that you’ve forgotten that you are talking to a real person, a person with feelings. A person who may be damaged by the things that you’ve said so recklessly and callously with no regard to how it may affect them. I know that you think you have to prove your side at all costs. But please, consider the cost. If you’re talking to a friend or family member, is proving yourself right worth losing the relationship? If you’re talking to a stranger, do you really want to present yourself in such a manner?

Regrets may come, but screenshots are forever. 

It is possible that in your haste to prove your side, justify your anger, you leave a lengthy discourse full of hatred that you may later regret saying. You may even regret it minutes later and delete the comment. I say this from experience because we all have the topics that can get us riled up instantly. And so we respond…and then later wish we had responded better or even kept our mouths shut. Unfortunately, someone has already seen it and saved it for eternity. Screenshots are forever, and those words you may wish you could take back have been saved, shared, and will pop us a reminder of your cruelty again in a year.

You have other options.

Lastly, please note that you have other options besides spewing venom onto someone for what you believe to be their ridiculous stance on {whatever}. Keep scrolling – take the high road and move on. If their thoughts are truly unpalatable, unfollow, snooze, or even unfriend. You don’t have to see it. If you continue to see things you disagree with on a regular basis from any one person, and you do not choose one of these options, I’m truly confused as to why you would want to expose yourself to someone whose thoughts are making you angry on a regular basis.

It would be impossible for us to go through life agreeing with everyone on every stance. And how boring that would be if it were! Disagreements are inevitable. But just because we disagree doesn’t mean we need to tear down, insult, and destroy another person. There is a better way. Stop and think. Consider the other person’s motives in posting, and consider their feelings before you give a response.

Sarah Vorhies is a self-proclaimed foodie who has been married to her husband Justin for ten years. Sarah and Justin have two beautiful children, Lillian and Judah. Sarah stayed close to home and got her degree in English Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. She can honestly say she is never bored thanks to one of the most fun jobs ever - teaching 11th grade American Literature. She enjoys traveling, reading, finding new recipes on Pinterest, and spending quality time with her family.

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