My Way or the Highway
About a year ago, I experimented with the keto diet to try to pinpoint some blood sugar issues I was having. So of course I joined numerous social media groups full of “experts” to get some ideas and recipes. Time after time, I saw people telling members “That’s not allowed” or “That’s not keto” or “OH MY GOD, you can’t eat that, you IDIOT!”
That last comment is edited to be family friendly, but it was aimed at me. Complete with the eye roll emoji. Because I ate a peach.
Now I could go on a big scientific rant about how there really are no off-limit foods on the keto diet or explain my conscious decision to eat something I wanted because I AM AN ADULT, but that isn’t the point of this post.
The point is (or are) that we have GOT to stop demanding that other people conform to our personal agendas. And we have got to stop talking to people like they aren’t people on social media.
Earlier today, a friend posted on Facebook about stocking her house with essentials for her boys. She mentioned buying paper towels, and a friend chimed in about paper plates.
Then the internet blew up because OH MY GOD… THE POOR TREES.
The internet didn’t really blow up, but someone did comment/judge about how they were killing trees and are sorry excuses for conservationists. My friend is a lovely person and answered the critic with her usual loveliness, but it got me so fired up. This woman is one of those people who you meet and immediately know that they are filled with pure goodness. She works numerous jobs to raise three boys alone, she gives back in every way she can, and I could go on forever about her. But she bought some paper products to make life a little easier. So WHAT? I’m all about some dang trees, and I do what I can to reduce my footprint, but don’t touch my paper towels.
We can’t be ALL the things. We can’t do EVERYTHING for the good of something else. It’s exhausting.
I’ve got stories for days, and I’m sure you do too. Unless you’re one of the meanie faces who are bullying people for simply living their lives. Just yesterday, a mom was asking for advice about pediatricians who will not push vaccinating her children. I’m not shy about my pro-vaccination stance, but never in a million years would I take that as an opportunity to try to drag her back on to my side. But of course, in true Facebook fashion, the “my way is better than yours” moms stepped in and tore her apart.
How in the world is it helpful to make someone feel terrible about a decision they have made? Do people honestly think that by tearing someone down, they’ll get them to see their point?
Along with being a health coach, I am a school nurse in a small Title One school. I work with a very diverse group of children, many of whom, due to their socioeconomic status, qualify for free or reduced meals. Imagine if I started pushing a “You should only eat organic and you need essential oils to live and you’re going to kill your kids by washing them with Dial soap” agenda to the families I work with. Many of them can barely afford shoes for their kids, so I’m quite sure a $30 bottle of lavender isn’t a priority. Not only is it not a priority, but suggesting to someone who struggles financially that they should be drinking freshly juiced kale or a $80/month shake is downright offensive.
So how do we help people without being – sorry for the language -but… an A-hole?
PICK ME! PICK ME! I know the answer!
First, you keep your mouth shut and your fingers off the keyboard. Because you’re not helping anyone.
Second, you THINK.
Let’s go to the hallway of the school I work in and take some of the best advice I’ve ever seen off the wall.
Before you speak: THINK.
T: Is it TRUE?
H: Is it HELPFUL?
I: Is it INSPIRING?
N: Is it NECESSARY?
K: Is it KIND?
I’d like to add:
E: Is it EMPATHETIC?
R: Is it RELEVANT?
Y’all it’s that simple. Be a THINKER.
By calling me an idiot, you aren’t getting me to put down my ripe, summer, juicy peach that I dream about all winter. By telling my friend she’s not a conservationist and that she’s just wasting paper, you’re not getting her to stop buying paper towels. By pestering people who have financial issues with the ol’ “one serving is cheaper than going to Starbucks,” you’re not going to get a sale. What you ARE going to do is offend, lose friendships, and make people feel really crappy about themselves.
If you want to attract me to a new way of thinking, lead by example. Educate without patronizing. SHOW me, don’t tell me.
What we teach our first and second graders each day has been forgotten in the adult world. It’s what our parents always told us: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. When was this lost?
Your smartphone is not a shield and user accounts are actually real people. You CAN eat a peach if you want to. You CAN buy paper plates if you want to. But we CANNOT continue to treat people like this.
It’s time we all sit back and deal with the realization that our way just might not always be the right way. So let’s all agree that we will be THINKERS and jump off the highway and take a back road every once in a while.