Before you post something online from behind the safety of your keyboard, ask yourself if your contribution is educating, entertaining, or otherwise enlightening people, or if you are acting like a troll.
Of course, sharing your ideas and beliefs have the potential to create more in-depth conversations. Words matter, and now more than ever, it is temptingly easy to tap out a few poorly chosen ones to be pithy, or in some cases, mean-spirited.
Those who are ignorant, obnoxious, or spiteful, behave like trolls because they feel threatened by people who try to progress from the current state to a possibly better future found on the other side of the bridge. Trolls prey on the weak, the unsuspecting, and those who don’t validate their beliefs. Fundamentally, trolls, and bullies of all types, are fearful and insecure.
So, do you want to demonstrate your fears and insecurities, or would you prefer to lead?
When you lead, you become a magnet for alternative ideas and critiques, frequently from those not courageous enough to enter the arena themselves. Critics have lost the art of loyal opposition and instead behave like whiners or victims, incessantly bashing those who are in the thick of things, doing what they can to try and make things better.
If you want to start leading instead of whining, come out from behind the secure blue glow of your screen. Holly McNamara, a friend and Somerset Selectman from Massachusetts, offers a few insights and tips for keyboard warriors ready to become contributing advocates.
“If you spend all of your time spewing “ideas” and criticisms on social media, you’re accomplishing nothing,” she says, “Why don’t you take that energy and actually work with people to improve things and implement your ideas? You don’t have to run for office to make your community a better place.”
Holly shared a list of activities from which I believe all citizens could benefit. To me, they offer a valuable blueprint for how you can begin to practice your leadership skills while improving your surroundings.
Ways to Get off the Keyboard
- Form a nonprofit
- Start a fundraiser
- Call your representatives
- Join a committee
- Start a cleanup
- Talk to your neighbors
- Be KIND
- Have EMPATHY
- Be COMPASSIONATE
- Love your community
- Do not bully, and stop being an a-hole
My advice, start with one or two items on the list and take action immediately. Instead of cluttering the internet with unuseful sniping, or tearing people down, you can choose to become a positive contributing force. Even if you oppose whoever is currently “in charge” of things in your world, you can strive to become the better option. Every critic should feel compelled to not only offer their hot-take but also provide an alternative course of action; otherwise, it’s a wasted opportunity that only perpetuates lousy leadership. Do better.