The Daily Tar Heel
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The Daily Tar Heel

In the spirit of spreading love and affection for Valentine’s Day, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what love is and isn’t. Love doesn’t always have to “look” like love. Love doesn’t always have to be giving someone a kiss or a hug or a gift. When it comes down to it, I think choosing to be kind, choosing to consider others, is a form of love.

Last week, Kelsey Weekman, our awesome online managing editor, tweeted “sometimes college media is the hardest job. IMAGINE a world where people are kind to others who are learning!!!”

That really struck me. Why, oh why, are there so many negative comments directed not only toward The Daily Tar Heel, but the writers themselves? We’re in college, which means we are students; we are currently learning and we are not perfect. We have a million things to do while maintaining our GPAs and making ourselves as employable as possible. Staff writers don’t get paid so we come back, week after week, because we love the DTH and we care about news. Do people really not know this? Or are they choosing not to think about it?

I’m sure fervent commenters don’t post with the intentions of being mean. It’s a way to share their opinion or start a dialogue of some sort, which is fine. However, I believe that the shift from verbal to technological communication has resulted in neglecting the practice of “thinking before you speak.”

Once you say something, you can’t take it back — when you post something, you can. Although social media sites have a lovely delete button, it’s unlikely that your friends or followers will forget an outlandish post you made. It’s easy not to care. Bashing someone for their opinion or calling someone out is much easier behind a screen and a generic user name. No one can hold you accountable, and in most cases, there’s nothing to lose except for the time you spent writing.

It may be a different practice, but before you post something, reply to a Facebook status or comment underneath a college student’s online work — I challenge you to just think about it. There’s a slight catch, though... it takes effort.

Asking yourself questions like: Would I want someone to say this to me? What would my boss say if they saw this? How am I making this person feel? Can be time consuming.

I ask myself questions like that on a daily basis because I genuinely care about the impact I have on other people. It can be time consuming, but thankfully, I have a shortcut.

It’s based on a Buddha quote, “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” My grandmother and mom loved it so much they made T-shirts with the three questions... and made me wear it to school. Three simple questions:

1. Is it nice? 2. Is it true? 3. Is it necessary?

If I get 2/3rds, I’ll usually go for it. Consider it a post-Valentine’s Day challenge — one time today, before you write a post or speak, ask yourself those questions. By considering the repercussions of your words, you are taking others into consideration. Therefore, you are showing love.

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