In the movie, Ghost Busters, Egon Spengler says, “Print is dead.” To some extent, I agree, but words on the screen are alive and well.
In the military, we know how to communicate and how to show respect in all forms of communication. After all, the military relies heavily on communication and it must be done the right way the first time, every time.
Social media has literally destroyed communication while creating an overabundance of it. It is just words on a screen and anyone can write anything they want and send it to anyone or even everyone. No longer, are people dealing directly with other people, it is now through a screen and many are so flippant, they spew their vile hate-filled words at its worst. I’m not talking about the idiotically-defined “hate”, which can be anything that “offends”, I’m talking about the incessant use of swear words thrown around with ease or, at the least, just the complete lack of respect shown to others regardless of who they are. I am not calling for a “sir-sandwich” with every comment, but to rip into someone online is just inexcusable.
Using a 45-year old adult named Alfred as the subject, if you, a high school student, follow of one of Alfred’s social media accounts, even though the social network says that you both are “friends”, you most certainly are not. You are not even acquaintances unless you have met in person. Even if you are in your 20s, address other adults by their last name or Sir/Ma’am. If you know Alfred by his rank, then that is how you address him- that is how you address everyone unless otherwise specified. I know many veterans, retirees, law enforcement, EMS and firefighters. Some of them I address by their rank- I have never asked nor have they said otherwise, and some of them I call by their first name. However, I always begin by using rank, last name or sir/ma’am. It is best to begin with respect and communicate that you think the other person deserves respect.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
You must start at a mutual basis; everyone deserves respect, regardless if you are given respect or not. I see some online accounts with a statement that goes something like this: ‘Treat me well and I will treat you well.’ It does not work that way. Sure, you can treat someone else like they are just a piece of garbage just because they did not respect you first, but that is just a big cop-out. We all have a responsibility to treat others with respect, regardless of how others treat you. Do you not like that you have a responsibility to others? That is the reality of life, even though others do not live up to that responsibility. It has to start with someone, who better than you?