We hear a lot of talk about kindness. Billboards beseech us to be kind. There are several articles each week about being kind to each other and numerous suggestions about how to be kind. We hear it in church. Most people agree, in principle, being kind is the right thing to do. And then every day we see people being mean on social media. There are bullies in our schools who prey on those they see as weak. Do you see the dichotomy?  

What is it about social media that makes people want to rip other people apart? Do you post things on social media you would not say to anyone’s face? People like to blame it on President Donald Trump, but he has no control over what we say or what we write. Other people blame politics, but we have always had politics and managed not to call each other “stupid” or an “idiot.” Most of us would never say these things face to face, so why is it OK on social media? Do we ever stop and think the calling and the labeling may be hurtful to someone else?  

Then there is the bullying. We hear about kids being bullied at school, but now there is the dimension of social media outside of school. There is nothing kind about bullying because it always is to say, “You are not OK… you don’t belong.” I know something about this because I was bullied at school. I was quiet and shy. Going to school in late grammar school and middle school meant being insulted and not being picked for teams in gym class, but at least it ended with the school day — because we didn’t have social media then. Now, pictures get posted on Snapchat and gossip is posted on the internet all intended to embarrass someone and to make the target feel bad, and to make the bully and their friends feel big. Where is the kindness they were taught — or is it that it was never taught? Are you a good example of kindness for your kids?

How many times do we see a chance to help someone yet we don’t? That disabled person who is struggling to open a door; the person on the scooter at Walmart who can’t reach the thing he or she needs on the top shelf; the elderly person at the register who can’t get his or her card to work; or the person who needs a wheelchair handicap parking spot but can’t find one because someone else thinks it is more important to park closer to the store and takes up the space for a wheelchair. The worst thing I have heard of was a man who had an epileptic seizure in a Walmart. No one came to his aid; people stood around with their phone videotaping it; and finally a guy snatched his wallet while he was on the ground with the seizure.  

The most recent one about Aniah Blanchard who was abducted while a witness watched and failed to contact the police because they were afraid of or not wanting to get involved.  

And now we are into the holiday season. Everyone likes this season because people are nice and helpful, and it feels good. So why is it when the holidays are done, the kindness does not seem to linger? I think we need show our kindness year-round.

Elsie Hickman is a Lake Martin resident who is a weekly columnist for The Outlook.