By Heidi Stevens Chicago Tribune
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Heidi Stevens ponders an internet free of judging, shaming and trolling. It is a concept that singer Pink is challenging the world to create, one tweet at a time.
The singer Pink issued an internet challenge, and it has nothing to do with eating Tide Pods or swallowing cinnamon or replicating Kylie Jenner's lips. (I can feel my kids' eyes rolling at these examples, which are, like, ANCIENT NO ONE EVEN DOES THOSE ANYMORE, MOM.)
Pink's challenge, unlike those dumb (ancient) ones, carries no risk of bodily harm. Pink's challenge, should you choose to accept it, may even improve your life.
"I'd like to propose a worldwide internet challenge to anyone reading this today," she wrote on Instagram. "Go ONE day without criticizing someone online. Let's call it the MISS ME WITH THE BULL__ CHALLENGE. And if it feels good, hey, why not go TWO DAYS. But let's start with one for the overzealous out there."
Can you imagine? An internet free of judging and shaming, and snarking and trolling? I can't either.
But can you imagine an internet with a little less judging and shaming, and snarking and trolling? I mean, I actually can't either. But can you imagine using the internet for a day or two without adding any of your own judging and shaming, and snarking and trolling? I can. I love this idea.
"But some people deserve to be judged/shamed/snarked/trolled," you may be saying. "Horrible politicians, for example. People who promote bad policy. People who discriminate against marginalized communities. People who direct messenger you weird links with shocked face emojis and say ARE U IN THIS VIDEO OMG????"
Great points, all of them.
But it's just for one day. And for that one day, we could try a different approach. We could direct our righteous outrage into worthy causes instead of blistering tweets. We could use our anger/sadness/frustration as fuel to create change, rather than fuel to pour on a Dumpster fire of Facebook comments.
We could channel Chicagoan Claire Quinn, an amateur boxer who fended off a would-be robber in Bucktown with some well-placed punches to the groin.
"A motto I live by," she told the Tribune's Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas. " 'Do no harm but take no s---.' " (Heroes walk among us.)
Do no harm can mean, for our purposes, cool it with the online criticizing. (For a day! Maybe two!)
But take no s--- means you don't have to sit idly by and watch the world burn.
Every time we stumble across a Facebook post that makes our blood boil, a politician begging to be pilloried, a person whose ideas offend us to our core, we can search for a cause or a candidate or an organization that is actively working to dismantle that madness. And we can throw our money and time and energy there. (Unless we're journalists. Journalists are forbidden by ethical guidelines from throwing money or time or energy at politicians.)
Let that idiotic tweet be the nudge you need to finally join a group of community activists. Use that politician's bias as incentive to read a book that challenges some of yours. Instead of sharing something toxic with a snarky comment about human idiocy, enroll as a volunteer/tutor/mentor.
Let's try it. For a day. See if it reframes things. See if it's sustainable. Maybe it becomes a once-a-week exercise. A reset button of sorts, to clear our mental browsers of bile and insults.
Thanks for the idea, Pink. ___ Join the Heidi Stevens Balancing Act Facebook group, where she continues the conversation around her columns and hosts occasional live chats. ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.