The world of social media can be a fabulous place. Sharing ideas, successes and failures with like-minded individuals can be inspiring and consoling in equal measure. It can be a great place to ask for advice, and to give it.
Unfortunately, it has also become a place to criticise others in a way that people may not have had the guts / chutzpah / balls ( excuse my language!) to do in a face to face situation. It may make it easier to do but it certainly doesn't make it hurt less to be on the receiving end...
I've been thinking about this all day after a couple of comments on my own social media posts and I've decided to revive a technique that I used to use when I was a school teacher. It's called two stars and a wish. I taught this method to 6 year olds up to 16 year olds but I reckon most adults could use a version of it too.
Basically, when you're asked to give your opinion on something, you actually give two stars and a wish. So, I would read a story written by a child then I would think of two things that I liked about the story. I'd share these first, along the lines of, ' Jimmy, I really like the names that came up with for your characters!' - first star. 'And the way that you started your story is just brilliant!' - second star. Now the wish. 'I think I'd like it even more if you could take another look at the ending of your story, it needs a little more detail I think.'
See? I deliberately find two things that I like and convey them before even mentioning my 'criticism' and a constructive comment. I've never struggled to find two stars - even something as simple as 'oooh, I love that you used the word 'awesome' instead of 'good'. It's such a great word!'
Now okay, this example may seem simplistic but let's think about how we can use it in real life ( or 'irl' if you're one of the cool kids!).
<span;>I'm a member of several FB groups with a gardening theme. Often people share images of their gardens and ask for advice or opinion. Not all are to my taste ( and thank god for that or the world would be a very dull place!) but it's always easy to find two positives. 'Oh, I've never thought to use that plant like that, it looks so different', and that planter is fab, did you make it?' We don't need to lie, just put a positive slant on things. Then the wish. 'I think you might find that plant may struggle near that fence though, it usually needs lots of light'.
OK, so I've probably still oversimplified, but see how different an affect that could have on a newbie gardener? We don't need to pull others down constantly - and if you feel you do then perhaps there are bigger issues that you need to address in your own life before taking them out on others. Giving someone that you've never met a 'lift', however small, could be exactly what they need on that day. And guess what? There's so much more joy to be had in building someone else up, rather than tearing them down...