The Internet has done amazing, wonderful, stupendous things for connecting the world, promoting freedom and diversity, enabling distance learning and online friendships, and establishing whole new worlds of commerce, but there is a dark side to it that is really starting to bother me. All this interconnectedness has created a meanness in us, or maybe it has simply revealed a mean spirit that was there all along, but I wish it would go away. Even kind, loving people I know are susceptible to it, and my hope is that this post will get them to reconsider.
I’m talking about the Mean Photo. You know, the snapshot of someone in Walmart, or going to the prom, or on the subway who probably thinks he/she looks perfectly okay, but some stranger (or worse, a friend) takes a picture and posts it on the Internet for the rest of us to forward and “like” and write snide, superior comments.
If I see one more picture with the caption, “Oh. Dear. God!” I may just lose it.
That is a human being in that picture. A person who got up that day, got dressed and left the house without ever thinking it would make her the subject of national ridicule, simply because her shorts are too tight. Maybe she’s gained a lot of weight recently due to a medical condition and can’t afford new clothes, or doesn’t want to buy things in a size she intends to reduce. Maybe it’s a single mom who had to choose between doing the laundry and going to her son’s baseball game, so here she is, making the better choice, even though this is all she had to put on.
Did you come up with the cleverest caption for the balding guy with glasses waiting for the bus? Congratulations! Yes, I’m sure he chose to lose his hair, be nearsighted and not own a car. You are so much bigger and better than he is, by all means, make as nasty a comment as you can think of. He won’t mind, since his life is already so perfect.
I know that writing this will subject me to all kinds of “lighten up” responses, and I don’t care. I’m putting it out there, so I’m willing to weather whatever ridicule it generates. That’s my choice.
But to degrade, insult, mock, malign, put down, humiliate and (probably) hurt someone because their appearance amuses you is not funny. It’s cruel. You’re better than that.
Truly happy people treat everyone with respect.
Show the world how happy you are.
Delete the mean photo and go give a total stranger a nice compliment.
Especially if it looks like she needs it.