Mama A's Playground Rules for Grownups.

My darlings and sweet peeps,

Mama A's back from a slightly longer than expected absence on the old internets.  I had hoped that you would be behaving in my absence, but I've come to see that many of you have really played into the whole "when the cat's away" theory and have run amuck.  What is most upsetting is that I'm peering at your social media accounts and feeling like I'm having to peel bodies apart from each other after a scuffle on the playground.  You are disheveled and sweaty and red all over in anger and it's apparent from your ALL CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!! that you have a lot you still need to say to the world.

Luckily, Mama A is schooled up on situations like this and (using my best classroom management phrases) your behavior indicates to/shows me that it is time to review our basic expectations for communication with others on the social media playground:

1.  Speaking on social media is like speaking into a megaphone on the top of the jungle gym.  Sometimes people want you to get down off of the top so others can have a turn.  Your family loves it when you post adorable photos of kids doing kid-things.  We all love an adorable animal doing adorable animal things.  But if you post political statements on social media, the world is going to respond.  If you would not stand up on a table and shout these statements in a mall, then please don't post them on social media if your friends extend beyond your family and immediate circle of friends.  If you would not pass out paper copies of highly-opinionated and articles to strangers and acquaintances, then think very carefully before you share.  

2.  You are not the Queen B.  Stop assuming the entire world thinks like you, or that you are going to open the eyes of the masses with your enlightening post.  You are not that important.  I hate to be the one that breaks that to you, sweet cheeks, but someone needs to let you know.

3.  Nobody likes a perpetually Negative Nelly nor an Angry Andy.  There are a lot of negative and angry people, and there are a lot of people who don't know exactly how to respond to all of the angry people.  And a lack of response does not indicate that people do not care--perhaps they are taking a little longer to process.  Or perhaps they are keeping their thoughts to themselves because you've yelled at them, too.

4.  If you want to have a friend, you need to be a friend.  If you only want friends who are exactly like you, then you are not promoting friendship.  Listen to the people who have similar and different ideas from you.  Try to understand someone else's point of view and then decide if you agree.  And if you disagree, don't be a jerk.  Sometimes Mama A strongly disagrees with others and mentally punches them in the face, but she would never do that in real life because jail is not fun.

5.  Mean girls (and boys) sometimes grow up to be nice girls (and boys).  And sometimes mean kids grow up to be mean adults.  They just get bigger and louder without a someone keeping them in check.  It's a sad reality.  Look for fun friends who make you smile and let you have opinions and treat you nicely and share snacks with you.    

6.  You cannot expect everyone to stop what they are doing and come play a game with you immediately.  Everyone knows that unless you're the coach with a whistle, most of the time you have to ask someone to come play with you.  And they are allowed to say yes and they are allowed to say no.  If you keep asking people and no one comes to play with you, then perhaps you need to change your approach.  Maybe it's the way you are asking.  Maybe it's because no one agrees that Duck Duck Goose is more fun than Red Rover.  If you're not getting the response you want, maybe it's you after all.

And, for the love of all things fluffy, stop tattling about it.  
I can't make someone be friends with you.   

7.  You build a team one friend at a time.  If you stand and yell in the middle of the playground, then very few people are going to respond.  But if you gather friends and look like you are having a good time, and you encourage others to join when they ask to play, then you will slowly make a difference on the playground.

8.  If you all gang up on someone because that person thinks differently then you, then you've become bullies.

9.  Take turns on the swings.  Sometimes you will speak, and sometimes you will listen.  Figure out when it's the appropriate time.  If you try to push someone when they are far away and high in the air, most likely you're going to get kicked in the face.  But if they are close to you, they will appreciate the assistance and will return to you for more.

10.  Share your snacks.  Friendship starts when we help others with basic needs.  Look around you and do the next nice thing for the person in close proximity.  Share your chips, pick them up when they fall, hold their hands, and don't dump them just because they disagree about the best sports team or political party. #dukestinks #sorry #notreallysorry

My loves, it's really simple.  Most people come to social media to socialize and some of you are using it as a platform--which is totally your prerogative.  But if you want people to listen to your platform, you need to change the delivery of your message.  Check your tone.  Check your "facts" and articles and statements before you post them.

And if you find that someone is consistently making you all hot and bothered with their status updates, then just "unfollow" them before things get out of hand.  You don't have to stop being friends with someone and cut them off completely because you disagree.  Someone is not the enemy if they have a different opinion.  I know good people on all sides of the playground.  We don't always disagree, but that doesn't mean I should love them any less.

My darlings, let's just work together to create a more respectful social media playground.  Let's admit that the past is in the past and it's time to move forward.  Let's choose to stop pushing people down when we're mad and let's sit down next to each other and discuss these very, very serious issues like reasonable adults.  Sometimes that means we're going to have to get off of the digital playground and deal with this in old-fashioned ways.

We cannot always undo what has been done, but we can choose to make today and tomorrow better with our actions and responses.

Love and smooches,

Mama A.

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