A quick show of hands out there. How many people would panic if they learned that St. Nick would be making his naughty/nice list this year by checking everyone’s social media feed?
The jolly ol’ Elf is not going to bother with that “he knows if you’ve been bad or good” in the real world any longer. He’ll make his decision on who gets gifts solely by your comments and the photos you posted online for the world to see in the past year. That includes nasty words used during political rants as well as that meme (graphic) you posted to make fun of someone when in hindsight, it probably was mean-spirited and not as funny as you first thought.
Berating someone over a trivial faux pas would get you that lump of coal, while exaggerating how great your vacation was to make friends envious isn’t quite as serious and would decrease your gift status only a little. And Santa’s checking up on you will include demerits for going overboard in describing the gruel-like food and Ogre waiter at a restaurant when, truth be told, the food and service really were not that bad.
We’ve seen some pretty deplorable language and barbs hurled online in the past 12 months. In fact, after some discussion, our staff decided to not post reader-submitted Thanksgiving recipes on social media because we worried that an online crank would take it upon themselves to lash a kindly grandmother-type if her stuffing recipe wasn’t all organic.
The Progress gets roasted regularly enough online that we don’t let it bother us any longer (“Haters gonna hate,” according to Taylor Swift). Though we must express frustration that people who objected to our editorial in support of the recent SPLOST did so by implying we had moral failings instead of merely taking a different opinion on a matter of government spending.
We toss out opinions and welcome feedback of all kinds, so we are fair game and recognize that. But what is disheartening is when we see people getting scorched, destroyed, and nastily berated online for some political issue. Often we know these people, have known them for years and they really aren’t bad folks at all. In fact, they are quite good people to have living in the community and don’t deserve the rancor.
Some hard-working mom or dad who committed the now unpardonable sin of expressing a different view on national or local politics can suddenly find themselves public enemy number one and often drawn into an arena (public posts) where they aren’t prepared to compete.
For the holiday season, let’s spread holiday cheer both in person and online. After all, nobody wants that lump of coal in their stocking because they got a little over-heated about a teenage cashier not making change quickly enough, or the person who worked really hard but didn’t meet your personal standards with yard decorations, and certainly not for some opinion on something halfway up the coast in the nation’s capital.
We encourage and support the public expressing opinions-- that is what makes a democracy work. But for the holidays maybe do it a little nicer – something Santa would approve.