Like a death of the heart
Jesus, where do I start?
But you’re still the one pool
Where I’d happily drown

LCD Soundsystem – New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

P.S. This post was originally published on August 15th, 2013.

Something has become painfully clear to me. Without the slightest of doubt in my mind, we have all become huge assholes.

Actually, that’s unfair. We were always assholes. Instead, we have continually allowed ourselves to express the worst parts of our character in public and on the internet.

My twitter feed is full of great people. I try to only follow people I like, find entertaining, and are intelligent. However, it feels like I find myself being very annoyed online with people I really like offline. People who are otherwise reasonable, rational, and careful with their words.

Over the last decade, mobile phones and social networks have made it shockingly simple to publish our thoughts and opinions to the world at large. We see something on TV, read an article on the internet, or overhear someone at a cafe, then we seem to freak out. We have gut reactions to these things, and in the past we would share those reactions with our friends around us or keep them to ourselves. When that happens today, we tweet it, post it on Facebook, or write a blog post without taking even a moment to edit it.

You know what has happened because of this? We’ve become even more cynical and snarky than we already were. We are less empathetic of those around us, and we assume the worst in people if we even remotely disagree. We let the opinions of others easily infiltrate our minds and hearts, and we become enraged over the smallest of offenses.

Don’t worry. I get it. There are people that live in this world who are wrong. However, we don’t all have to gang up to tell them right at this moment.

It is frustrating when someone does or says something incredibly stupid, especially when there is an audience to see it. However, it doesn’t solve anything when everybody gangs up on the offender. Snark doesnt help anybody. It’s causes a mob mentality that continues to compound until a critical mass of spewed hatred and cynicism has been reached. It exhausts everybody and brings out the worst in human nature.

But it is okay, I promise. Someone made a mistake. They said something wrong, did something stupid, or maybe they are just different from you. But we don’t win by yelling. We win by being thoughtful, patient, and deliberate with our response.

Try it next time. Don’t say anything when you are upset. Ignore what the crowds on the internet are saying. Wait a few hours, or even a day. Empathize with the offender, and see if you can understand (even in the slightest) their perspective. More often than not, you’ll realize you don’t even care anymore.

The only problem with the last laugh is that the winner has to laugh alone.
— Nassim Taleb