“Imagine every single word that left your lips was published on the Daily Mail: would you feel ashamed?”
What is kindness? For me, it is about treating people how you would want to be treated – but, with so many of us living out our lives on social media, it can be harder and harder to show compassion to those around us. We can be thoughtless, we can comment without thinking, and we can hurt people without ever realising we’ve done so.
So how do we prevent this? Well, I think a good kind of method is to imagine that every text you send, every email, every word that leaves your lips is going to be published on the front page of the Daily Mail (alongside your full name and photo). Would you feel ashamed to see your words blown up for all to see, or would you be able to stand by what you typed, what you said, what you tagged? Think about it. Think about it really hard. Because, if you would feel even the slightest bit embarrassed or uncomfortable, then it’s never OK to do it say it or behave like it. You are representing yourself online, and nobody else, so don’t do anything that’s shameful or that you wouldn’t do in person.
Another good rule for social media, I find, is to never type and post. Instead, be sure to type, pause, think, and then post. Try to remember that every action you take in life will have a consequence and a reaction for other people, and that it’s the same on social. So be as transparent as possible when you’re posting – and be mindful of your feelings when you’re typing, too.
Always take a moment to really assess your emotions: are you getting a bit bitter, or angry, or jealous, or resentful of other people? If so, don’t shy away from these feelings: instead, embrace and acknowledge them, because that’s the first step to thinking “well, this isn’t me and I don’t want to be this way”. Maybe try having a bit of a social media cull or a detox. Maybe try unfollowing some accounts (I’m thinking about the ones that made you start craving that gym body, but in reality they’re just making you unhappy and inadequate), because if something’s giving you pangs of resentment every day, it’s not good for you.
Of course, all of this becomes trickier when you’re the one being attacked on social media – I know that it can be all too easy to assume an online troll speaks for everyone. Please, please try to remember that this isn’t a true representation of how the world sees you, though. Because, while it may feel as if everybody’s on social media, there is a large percent of the population that still aren’t: this is only a tiny, tiny section of society’s views. This invisible bully absolutely doesn’t represent everybody that you’re going to meet with and interact with offline. So try, if you can, to let it go.
I always tell myself that nothing ever is worth holding onto if it hurt you, because the longer you hold onto anger and resentment, the longer you feed it and keep it alive. That is such a contradiction in the pursuit of happiness and inner peace, and you deserve to find both of those things. Be kind to yourself, as much as you would be to others.
And, to the trolled and trolls alike, remember that social media requires you to take responsibility for your own actions., Just like chocolate and alcohol, it is only good in moderation, so don’t keep scrolling and scrolling until 3am. Limit your usage, just as you would with anything else, and treat it as a… well, as a treat. After all, research has suggested that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social networking sites are more likely to report poor mental health. With that in mind, a little self moderation might go a long way.
For one day only on Thursday 15 November, Katie Piper has taken over stylist.co.uk as part of The Kindfulness Project, packing the site with articles on what she’s learned about empathy and the importance of self-care..
For similarly inspiring and uplifting content, check out Katie Piper’s Extraordinary People, available on Apple Podcasts now.