#Periscope: Lessons on Humanity

There’s been a sense of criticism surrounding the concept of “building others up instead of tearing them down.” I guess those who criticize this idea, believe people should have their own sense of self and be confident enough in themselves without needing anyone to “build them up.”

I would agree with this if society was creating a culture that lends itself to being generally civil and respectful of people.

Consider this example:

I challenged someone close to me to try Periscope – a live streaming video application that allows users to share what’s going on around them. If you’ve ever tried something new, you know the sense of awkwardness and vulnerability that accompanies that experience. The Periscope app publishes your video live and allows users to view your live video and make comments as you’re recording.

So my friend decides to give it a try yesterday.

And it was adorable. I was proud of her and entertained by her commentary as she shared her lawn mowing experience with the world. I’m assuming she enjoyed a sense of accomplishment from the task, and that is probably true of anyone who tries something for the first time, or mows their lawn. And yet, in our current society, getting familiar with technology and the very publicly accessible way it’s being shared with the world leads me to the reason behind this post.

The comments made by anonymous viewers who probably haven’t been brave enough to create their own live stream, instead troll the app for other people who are willing to take the risk and put themselves “out there” just so they can criticize them, insult them and mock their efforts. This undoubtedly makes the experience less satisfying and makes it even more awkward. Instead of that feeling of accomplishment, she had to deal with crappy, ugly comments. She’s a good sport, so I am sure it didn’t bug her too much, and she’s probably going to roll her eyes at me for publishing this post. (Sorry OG!)

Every day there are these small, almost insignificant ‘blips’ on the radar,  and we normally just shrug them off and say something like “haters gonna hate” but I think this is a great example of what is happening in our society that is leaving us despondent and disenfranchised. More and more people in our society are vocally ugly and mean, so when we take a risk, or try new things and put ourselves out there, and we’re mocked, ridiculed or laughed at, we ultimately start to ask ourselves, “Why bother? … Why don’t I just stay locked up in my shell and protect myself from these haters?

Don’t let them win!

I want to scream NO!  We need to take a stand, once and for all against these Internet trolls who sit in their caves and hide behind fake names and accounts just so they can feel better about themselves.  Taking a stand requires that we do something about it:

Risk Takers:

Need to keep taking risks and get better at these new tasks!

Audience Members (Fans and Followers):

Need to support, engage, show consideration, give positive feedback, and when asked, take some time and share ideas for making things better!

A Word About Comfort Zones:

Consider the toddler learning to walk, or the young girl on her first attempt at riding a bike without training wheels.  We don’t laugh and mock them.  And we should not laugh or mock adults (young or old) who are willing to try new things.  Even when they look silly, or mess things up (or have crappy lawn mowers).  Because as human beings, we tend to do what we feel most comfortable doing, and stay well within our comfort zones because we don’t want to be laughed at!

A Personal Story:

I don’t dance much.  Certainly not in public, (except for an occasional slow song) but really not even in private either and here’s why.  When I was in college, I was insecure about dancing.  A little background on this story: My mom is Cuban and whenever she’d try to “help” me dance, I felt embarrassed because she would say that I moved my shoulders too much and my hips not enough.  “Pies na mas (Just your feet)” she would remind me as the sounds of Celia Cruz and Beny Moré played loudly in the background.  I would let myself get into the groove a little, feel a little more comfortable; a little more confident, and then, when I thought I had it figured out, I would look up from my size 10 feet and she’d shake her head “no,” – mind you, she was in her own groove, dancing in her natural Cuban beat, indicating with that gesture that I needed to watch her some more.  I would grow frustrated, throw myself into the chair and just watch her, as she effortlessly danced to the sounds of her childhood. My mom isn’t the reason I hate dancing.  She was gentle and kind, encouraging me, even though she was telling me I was doing it wrong.  She was right, I needed practice.

No, the reason I hate dancing was the guy I went on a date with in college. We were at a night club in Tallahassee and the music was what every night club played in the 90s to get people on the dance floor. I was a little uncomfortable about it, so I casually joked about my two left feet, saying I didn’t dance much… you know, that awkward, “don’t make fun of me, I am still new to this,” comment we make when we’re unsure of ourselves.  Well the song was playing, and I was trying to let myself get into that groove a little, like I would when I danced with my mom.  Then, I made the mistake:  I looked him in the eye and he laughed.  “You were right, you can’t dance,” he said flippantly.   I stopped dancing immediately, looked at him for a few seconds, and then turned around and walked out of the club.  Once I was outside, I wasn’t sure whether to cry, or hide, so I kept walking – the three miles from the club to my apartment.  He never called, and I didn’t care.  I was mortified.

Maybe I am too sensitive, maybe I gave him too much power, maybe I need to let go of this and dance my own dance, but one thing remains certain:  The experience was unpleasant.  It hurt and it was embarrassing.  And it has taken a long time for me to truly feel ok about dancing.  If he hadn’t said that – if he had encouraged me instead – how might that have changed the outcome?  I don’t know, but I do know that the insults we hear impact us – some more than others, for sure, but there are only a couple of ways to react to insults – get your feelings hurt, or retaliate… you know, shoot an insult right back at them?

“You dance funny.”

“Well, you look funny.” 

A dialogue that still exists, even though we’re well past those adolescent days when we didn’t know any other way to handle these things.

So, I suggest again: Don’t tear people down. Build them up, encourage them, cheer them on and let them shine! Or just keep your thoughts to yourself.

If you’re like me and want to see more people using social media for GOOD, please share this post with your friends, your children, maybe your employees or co-workers.  Tell people to back off the crappy, mean-spirited comments and pull them together as cheerleaders.  Get out the megaphones and start screaming:  “A W E S O M E – You an’t got no alibi, You Awesome, yeah yeah, you awesome” at the top of your lungs. We need to drown out the haters!  After all, friends don’t let haters win!

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