Kindness, the default option

In computer science, the default option refers to a user-configurable setting assigned to an application. This default setting represents a button that is safest to use when the Enter key is pressed. It is a button I wish was an option on my keyboard when posting to my personal FaceBook page. In fact, I should have just removed my hands completely from the keyboard or better still pressed the off button on my laptop. I no longer have an active personal Facebook page.

When my FaceBook page was active, I envied my FaceBook connections that could easily scroll past their connections’ posts on political and damning memes to just privately drool on other’s dinner photos, snicker at baby goat or cat antic videos, or make “aww” faces when fawning over cute puppy and baby snapshots as I had imagined. On the other hand, why are these connections on FaceBook when they rarely communicate on their own timelines? I assume voyeurism was their default option.

I also learned from my FaceBook connections things that I did not need to know or should not know; but then again, I am positive my connections may well have been thinking the same thing about my over exposures. Could these same connections wish too that they could go back to retract, amend, or delete some of their posts or memes that I wish I would have when my FaceBook page was active?

My decision to deactivate my personal FaceBook page came at a time when I had too much on my plate. My screen time was out of control not to mention my anxiety. I allowed FaceBook to have too much of my precious headspace.

Since deactivating my personal Facebook on December 23, 2020, I did not necessarily set out to establish a practice of being more kind. Yet, kindness is what I needed to see in the world and not to confuse people with my kindness, I eventually learned that I needed to be kind to myself first. I forgave myself for my FaceBook faux pas and vowed that my need to communicate needed a  reckoning.

Kindness, the Default Option

Leading my interactions with kindness means being clear in all my communications even with my own internal communications. It starts with self-acceptance which means accepting myself just as I am. Being kinder to myself led me toward the goal of forgiving myself for mistakes, shortcomings and allowing myself to feel good about my strengths and talents.

That was step one.

Step two was re-conceptualizing what it meant to be kind.

Sonya Lyubomirsky, a University of California-Riverside psychologist, found that practicing acts of kindness, as well as, expressing thankfulness, gratitude, and forgiveness was common among happy people. Kindness has a rebounding loop. Kindness, empathy, and compassion present a greater opportunity to make a world a better place. When I was contemplating on The Blogging Owl FaceBook page about deactivating my blog Facebook pages after the recent Congressional hearings with regard to Facebook, one of my readers posted, “You make social media better.” At the time, I did not think I was being too hard on myself about my personal FaceBook page, but this comment on my blog FaceBook page made me feel better.

Positive Intent vs Assumption of Negative Intent

Most people assume negative intent from others when it appears their words or actions do not align with their own values. As in the case of my own FaceBook experience, I can attest that I have been shocked and dismayed at times with family, close friends and acquaintances at revelations made on their timelines or their posts on other timelines. I am sure as I reflect on my own posts that my FaceBook connections could say the same about me.

On the other hand, it is possible we extend too much benefit of the doubt to people we like, or who are on “our side” of the topic. The closer we are to someone we are more likely we are to overlook their comments as a rash reaction rather than a deep-seeded conviction. Our assumptions may be further than the truth. Yet social conditioning often traps us into jumping to wrong conclusions about people we are acquainted and people we do not know well or even like.

So, what are my expectations with this kindness conundrum?

The practice of kindness starts with an intention.

Kindness begins where I am. The gift of the practice of kindness is how it changes me, and in turn, the other person that I extend kindness to. When I practice being kind to myself, I learn how to be kind to others. It does not mean self-sacrifice. It means I care for myself as a person capable of warmth, of balance, of a peaceful response to life. I want others to feel that same way.

December ushers in the opportunities for kindness.

The holidays are upon us. Rituals, spiritual and community celebrations are gifts that can bring us together. Holiday madness can also lead positive intentions to the assumption of negative intent just from a simple greeting. Whether you are a person that celebrates a religious holiday this season or not, please do not make it a battle on what is appropriate between Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Season’s Greetings, Holiday Wishes, Happy Holiday, just greet others with holiday expressions of your choosing and I will do the same.

May kindness be your default option this holiday season and beyond.


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