The familiar saying, “He who lives in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” keeps bubbling up in my head. This morning I suddenly realized that today’s social media is the equivalent of the glass house in this saying.
According to the website, https://www.phrases.org.uk/, which I accessed this morning, “PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES SHOULDN’T THROW STONES – “Those who are vulnerable should not attack others. The proverb has been traced back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘Troilus and Criseyde’ .” . . . [and] Benjamin Franklin also referenced this saying with a slight adjustment, “‘Don’t throw stones at your neighbors’, if your own windows are glass.'”
Today we live in a transparent world when we step onto the world wide web through any of the social media available to us. The social media is our glass house and what we post has the potential to damage another as easily as a stone destroys glass.
When I taught high school students journalism, I used to ask students would they want their grandmother to read what they wanted to print (yes print medium rather than broadcast medium was the standard in the 1970s and 1980s) if that was said about them. It seemed such an easy way to have them self-edit their work before publishing anything.
Today, that no longer serves as a good test as we are so removed from the social stigma’s of the ’70s and ’80s when grandparents were part of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. Now the grandparent has evolved to those in the Baby Boomer generation who lived through the 1960s and 1970s when social standards began shifting–or tumbling.
Today we need to teach our young people, and maybe reteach even the younger Baby Boomers, that what they post on social media is forever printed in one manner or another. The social media makes spreading gossip or menacing words so easy and once posted is there forever.
True, the social media has the positive value when spreading good news or complimentary words, but sadly our society seems not to share them as readily as they do the negative–another concept that needs direct teaching.
Today, teachers and parents must teach the young people from the first click of the electronic devices that what they say has tremendous power to damage someone else’s life.
Today, teachers and parents must teach the young people the power of the social media to do good, also.
Once that final click to post is made, there is no way to take away the effect of the words posted.
Let’s use the social tools we have available to keep the glass houses in tact rather than destroy with social media stones.