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Not My Finest Hour: Why Empathy Matters Online

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Online bullying and online empathy. It matters.
Fellow military spouse and blogger, Elizabeth, shares her story as part of our blog hop focusing on military spouse shaming, online bullying, and growing a more positive online military spouse and significant other community. 

Have you ever “put someone in their place” or “told them off” thinking that it was tough love? Maybe you’ve done it in person, by phone, or through email, text or Facebook? You know– where you told them to “grow a pair” or stop acting so silly! And it was all done in the name of tough love.

After all, you are older and wiser– you know that whining about the problem doesn’t do any good. You wanted that person to start looking at the glass as half-full and not half-empty.

I have noticed that technology’s anonymity has us doing things that we wouldn’t do in person. Don’t get me wrong– I’ve had a few moments, too, where I haven’t been proud of myself.

It wasn’t my finest hour.

Our first tour after marriage was in a really isolated base in South Texas. It was really hard on me– no one would hire me because I was a military wife. When I finally did find a position, my boss let me go three months early because I had made the mistake of telling her we had orders. She replaced me immediately. I was so upset… and then I went to a spouse’s dinner. A new spouse tried to be all happy and tell me how awesome I had it.  I let her have it. In my head, I put her in her place. It wasn’t my best hour– I felt so bad the minute I said anything. I have repented and apologized; now, we are fine. That was just between her and me.

The point of this story was this was in person, and I was able to apologize for my bad behavior. No one else was affected; just us. Online when you “chew” someone else, everyone can see what you say! You can’t make it up and you can’t make it better.

When it gets ugly online

I’ve seen this online– and not just in the military community. I am in a real estate Facebook group and I have had a few people harshly put me in my place, which they had no reason to do! While it hurt my feelings, it made even more people uncomfortable about posting. Heck, they PM me privately about issues that EVERYONE needs to hear! It is especially sad because those conversations could help everyone, but instead of teaching the rest of the group, they are scared to say something!

We are going to have disagreements, but you don’t know how many other people are going to be casualties of your “war/battle/disagreement”. Facebook pages need to be “safe” places for people to get help. People see me getting lit up and they think they will too! It doesn’t matter that you “light” them up over something else. They don’t see that! They just see the fire and are afraid they will be subject to the same firing squad.

Before you post…

Remember, online you can’t take back what you say. You have no idea who you have affect and what they are going through. This could be a military wife who is on the verge of depression with her husband deployed  or a mom suffering postpartum depression or it could just be a case of the blues. We need to uplift and be there for each other.

Before you “bash” or say something harsh, PLEASE think twice! While the person you are saying something to may be able to handle it, you might directly affect others who can’t. If you aren’t happy, PM the moderator! Make the question private.

[Tweet “We need to uplift and be there for each other. @JoMyGosh #milspouse”]

Elizabeth is the author of reluctantlandlord, a blog providing resources, stories, and other tools to be successful in real estate and investing. A proud Navy wife, she enjoys traveling, hanging out with her awesome boat-building husband, playing with her mischievous kitty, or writing on her newest project, her blog.


One Response

  1. This is so important to remember, and I see this NOT happen all the time. People don’t think twice about their words online because they don’t have to face the “consequences” since they’re just online. I hate it.

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