In a community Facebook group there was a news article reporting the recent capture of someone who robbed some houses in an adjoining neighborhood. Assumptions were made of this person’s immigration status, housing status, job status. It also expanded to others. When other members commented that the hateful comments were not welcome, they were attacked as well. They attacked their assumed politics, comments on their life status, called derogatory names and as you can see by the screen capture… just some bizarre comments.

Frankly, I was quite astonished by the hate and maybe I added my two cents at the wrong time. My message was to no one in particular but just to state that people do not see their hate as a problem. So the screen capture goes…

I hoped to get more screen captures but it was getting late in the evening and I thought I would use this opportunity to take a different tack. Looking at that person’s previous message, they were all full of angry words, Instead of getting angry, I started to have compassion but at the same time I wanted that person to realize what they were doing. I responded with: “Thank you for another example of your hate, the only person you are hurting with this anger is yourself.” They came back with another hurtful comment and I returned the volley “I have compassion for you but I am concerned about your anger. Namaste” (I am paraphrasing because the messages were deleted) If she came back at me with a hurtful message, I was going to offer to take our conversation out of the public view. Maybe she was having a bad day and it would be horrible if her words came back to hurt her, maybe she didn’t really mean them? When I woke up in the morning, I was glad to see somewhat of a retracted statement. the message started with “I’m ok…” It sounded as if she was somewhat backing off her statements ..somewhat… and offered at the end of the message “peace”. I was happy to see that the topic was deleted by the time I tried to get more screen captures so it didn’t fuel more hate and I hope every one involved took something away from the situation and I hope you take something from this situation!

What I have learned for this Story4Today:

People utilized the internet for many reasons. Maybe they are a concerned citizen and have some legitimate concerns, sometimes they will act out in anger, sometimes they will “Troll” to make others angry or annoyed, some people may be looking for help, maybe they have issues that go deeper such as substance abuse or mental “suffering”. You never know who you are dealing with.

It is okay to engage. Sometimes there is a need to right a wrong, defend your friends, or defend people who can’t or won’t defend themselves. Maybe this person just needed a sensible voice so they could hear a different opinion other than the one that was causing them to suffer. I ended up doing it by being compassionate to the other person. I’m not sure why they were so angry but I did not add fuel to the fire. I would have offered more (offline) support if I needed to.

However, it is often difficult to have compassion and not get angry when someone is “hitting you in the head with a stick”, there are just times when you need to turn off the “device” and walk away from the situation especially when it starts causing you suffering. (Quoted statement above is from a discussion I had recently) What if we looked at everyone and just took a compassionate tone with them? The world would be a better place!