Over the last few days, I have experienced a myriad of emotions ranging from pain…anger…confusion…irritation…
Since the story broke about the unfortunate incidence in which two young men were found dead in a car in Lagos, social media has been agog with all manner of insinuations.
First, my heart really goes out to the families of the deceased. It can never ever be easy to loose a child. The suddenness of it even makes it more difficult to wrap one’s head around. The pain must be deep. As parents, we have hopes and dreams for our children’s future and when those hopes are dashed by untimely death, it must be painful. My prayer is that God will comfort the families in the way only He can.
As I browse the web and get on social media, I find my emotions turning into anger and irritation. Which brings me to the question “where do we draw the line?” Where do people draw the line between insensitivity, inhumaneness, and decency on social media? What has happened to the golden rule “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you?” How have humans become so callous that they fail to recognize the impact their words can have on others even in the digital space? I believe that no matter what, to add to the pain of anyone grieving is crossing the line (my opinion).
The “seeming” anonymity that the screen provides in a digital world has erroneously given the impression that those that are being referred to or spoken about or trolled, have no emotions. THAT IS NOT TRUE! Little wonder suicide, depression and the likes are on the increase.
Digital empathy is a core value that we need to deliberately cultivate not just in ourselves but also in our children. The world is tough enough, why make it any tougher by helping to spread hurtful messages especially where the information has not even been substantiated.
Then, parents, we need to remember that apart from the immediate families of the deceased, these two young men were very popular and had loads of friends. Their friends – your sons and daughters are hurting and grieving too. They are dealing with confusion, fear, anger, pain…Do you really think NOW is the best time to give them a lecture about substance abuse? Do you really think they would listen NOW? Would having that conversation NOW make them open up to you or shut down?
“Parenting by fear” doesn’t really work as well as it did back in the day when we were told that “if you talk to a boy you would get pregnant”…It worked to some extent then but we have raised intelligent, independent children who question what they are told (which can be a good thing…right?). While I know that at the center of most parent’s heart is love and the desire to protect and care for our children, the method we use and the timing of our conversations play a critical part in how effective our interventions would be.
If the real objective is to get our children to listen and make necessary adjustments, not just shame them, condemn or instill fear, we have a part to play in how we communicate and the timing of our “message”. I subscribe 100% to the fact that parents must have conversations with their children about hard topics. I also strongly believe that timing and method are critical. No two children are the same so we must be observant to know what “time” and “method” would be most effective for individual children.
Once again I commiserate with the family and friends of the deceased and I remind the rest of us to please be Humane…even in a digital world.