“Kindness is a boomerang. If you send some out, you’ll watch it come right back to you!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
Social media has, by and large, ruined civil discourse.
Anger seems to be the go-to emotion for many, fury being their default, vitriol their regular course of action. And yet, we cling to and use social media because it can be oh, so rewarding when it works well – when the kindness of the human spirit shines through.
Last week, I posted one of my Daily Inspiration posts in advance to the social network Mastodon, seeking a little bit of commentary on what I was planning to write the next day. In my short post, I noted how I’ve now been writing these daily posts for well over 7 years, and wondered aloud how many people actually read them. Unsolicited, this comment came back to me from someone with the username Robrus3142:
I look forward to these every morning. I rise before dawn, make coffee, toast pop tarts, go to my loft and sit in front of my Mac . And read your post before spending the next 10 hours there.
This small, simple comment just really set my mood for the next several days, particularly as I spent most of the week in a funk, having tested positive for COVID-19. I was down about missing out on my keynote in San Diego, missing the rest of my family, and worried and wondering about how long the darn thing might last. Into the middle of this mindset came a little bolt of kindness and a shot of human warmth.
Kindness makes a difference.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about what a kind gesture this was. I really have no idea how much of an impact my Daily Inspiration post might have on people, or if people even actually read it – I know that in today’s attention-deficit fast-moving world, most of those who receive it do not. Many might give it a sideways glance, and on the rare occasion it might speak to them, might actually read it. But most will just skim the headline and move on, scanning through the nonstop information morsels that define today’s daily online life.
The post does go out to a LOT of people. Each day, moments after I finish writing it, it goes out to a LinkedIn newsletter article and to a LinkedIn Post; my personal and business Facebook page; the social network Mastodon; my Substack and Medium newsletters, to the Post.News social network, the photo-sharing site Flickr, my own mailing list of thousands of subscribers, and also to Instagram. Today, there are so many social networks one can participate in that this is one of my favorite images of the year:
I write these daily posts as much for myself as I do for the distribution; I use them as a method to set the tone for my day and to give me a regular outlet for my creative purpose. Sometimes there is a little bit of feedback on my posts, but nowhere near the level of engagement that one might hope for. And yet, when you receive a small little comment like this, it can really make your day!
Any kind gesture can go a long way toward setting one’s day! Last week, while both my wife and I were dealing with our mild case of Covid, our lovely neighbor saw fit to send us a batch of homemade turkey soup, fresh homemade bread – and in hand to my weakness for small bits of edible joy, a batch of warm cookies! That too made my day – not only the joy of the cookie, but the demonstrative act of kindness.
In today’s complex world, many of us are not kind enough. We’re too busy, moving too fast, losing the ability to pause and take a moment of reflection to say something nice to someone else.
Kindness should be our go-to, our default, the basic attitude that guides us through the day.
And keep in mind this simple fact – if you try to define your day and your life through kindness to others, it can really make your day – because it’s a boomerang.
Send some out, and it comes back to you!