I’m going to admit something that I’m not very proud of: summer mush brain is officially in effect, meaning that I’m daydreaming about beaches and bathing suits and frolicking in the sand and the scent of sunscreen in the warm air. I’ve had a hard time disciplining myself to keep up with my blog, though I’m proud that I’ve crossed off quite a few books on my summer reading list. At the top of this list was a book that I’ve been meaning to read for ages—not only because the author is a dear bloggy friend of mine, but also because she writes with her heart permanently exposed on her sleeve.
Galit Breen is genuine, she’s supportive, and she’s really what the blog community is all about. And sometimes, in an age of online trolls and nasty YouTube comments, it’s easy to forget that the internet can be a tie that binds and brings people together. Social media, when used correctly, is a wonderful platform to connect and form friendships as I’ve also learned over the years.
What terrifies me, and what is explored in detail in Kindness Wins, is what happens when young children turn to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. How do we monitor what they post, and how can we ensure that they aren’t falling prey to online bullying? How can we broach this sensitive topic with them and encourage them to practice kindness in real life as well as online?
Though I’m not yet a parent, I’ve heard the stories from my friends: the mother who doesn’t want to give her 12-year-old a phone and the father who half jokingly expresses rage when confronted by the reality that one day his baby girl will start dating.
Though I’ve never met Galit in person, she is a Minnesota mother of three and someone whose advice I take very seriously. When the time comes and I find myself confronted with many of these scenarios, she will be a friend I’d love to turn to myself, because of pearls of wisdom like this:
“You can do a whole lot of harm or a whole lot of good with anonymity. Each time you post is an opportunity to land on the right side of kindness. Keep making the right choice every time you get this chance.”
Beautiful advice, isn’t it?
Galit discusses the importance of teaching children to use social media responsibly, and, above all else, with kindness. She doesn’t believe parents should take away an opportunity for their kids to connect with their peers online. Though the age of social media influence is new, uncharted territory for many parents, it shouldn’t be something they are fundamentally opposed to out of fear.
Kindness Wins is an examination of Galit’s own life and online journey: from her days of studying abroad in Israel to how she met her husband and the day an article she wrote went viral for all the wrong reasons. Instead of cowering in the corner while she was attacked viciously by people she had never met online, she used it as fuel to pen this book and to spread an incredibly important message of kindness.
“We need to agree to see things differently without taking the conversation personally or using it as an excuse to attack someone else, ignore them, or barrage them with our opinions.”
Her teachable moments are my favorite. Galit is never preachy while doling advice and admits to being flawed herself (she offers an example of a time when she apologized to her daughter, which is one of my favorite moments of the book). She has clearly made it her mission to have an open and honest relationship with her children by showing them how they can make the most of unfriendly online games (which are a sad reality for many kids).
Do yourselves a favor and go read this book. And Galit, if you are reading this, thank you for a spectacular read!