Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Kindness of Strangers

A few months ago, the word "blog" was a minor irritant in my life, one of those ugly-sounding new words that had infiltrated the dictionary along with "spyware," "ringtone," and "avian influenza." My local newspaper runs an "InkBlogs" column, a title that manages to be both a bad pun and an oxymoron, but aside from that daily sting of irritation, blogs were well off my radar screen.

And then one day a BabyCenter bulletin led me here, and from there I clicked here and here, and the top of my head was blown off. Within days I had my own blog and I was making myself at home in this cozy little corner of the interweb. At various times I have braced myself for a visitation of trolls, but even my darkest confessions have invariably met with kindness.

It’s easy to forget, around here, that not everybody is nice, that by and large the Internet is a place where only the loudest, meanest voices can be heard. Some of the meanies have been descending to new depths lately, and in response Chookooloonks has come up with this:



It’s worth following this link to read her Declaration of Kindness (a nice counterpart, I thought, to Izzy’s equally inspiring Blogging Declaration of Independence).

Kindness is the fifth fruit of the Spirit, the one that comes after love, joy, peace, and patience. (To save Jennifer the trouble of going to church, here’s the whole text of the verse: "For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22) In times of crisis, I’ve always stuck with the first four, never feeling able to move beyond that giant stumbling block, patience. But now seems like a perfect time to add kindness to my list. Every day when my mother sent me off to school, she bade me farewell with the words, "Be kind." I value kindness, in myself and others, and when there’s something that you value, it’s always nice to have a button for it on your sidebar.

*****

The most fun acts of kindness, of course, are the ones that involve giving people cute buttons in honour of their side-splitting posts. Momish is one of my recent finds, a blogger who brings wit and honesty and, yes, kindness to everything she writes. My favourite kind of humour has always been the self-deprecating kind, and in this post she takes that willingness to poke fun at herself, mixes it with some fabulous plays on words, and turns it into a jazz-style riff. I won’t do more than set the stage by saying that the worst time to spill a glass of wine on your laptop is immediately after resolving to give up swearing. More ROFL awards can be found here and here. Go read, laugh, and be merry!

21 comments:

cinnamon gurl said...

I don't consider myself very kind (I'm far too judgmental though I try hard not to be). Because of this, I very much admire it in others. My way of helping is very much like yours as you described in yesterday's post: being there and editing papers.

And great pick for a ROFL award. I loved Momish's post... it made me want to stop swearing just to start coming up with colourful alternatives like she did.

cinnamon gurl said...

Yeah, I don't think I could label my blog as a kind blog. Just this morning I b*tched about the neighbour who b*tched about another neighbour... how does b*tching about unkindness fit into a kind blog? And, I highly doubt my blog improves anybody's day... but as I said, I certainly admire those who can label their blogs as kind blogs (and I think yours certainly fits).

bubandpie said...

I like to think of it more as a goal than a label, really. And I have never felt that you were being unkind, CG. ;)

nomotherearth said...

That was a funny post. I could take a lesson from Momish. My husband is always on me about watching my language.

Julie Pippert said...

I just put up my ROFL post nomination post...again. I blew it and posted it too early. But that's cool because whew, I had a reason to duplicate. ;)

I have lots of replacement words for curse words. My last post actually mentioend my current favorite: shee shaw (you know, when the other shhhhh word starts to come out) and then dogdogdogdogdog to cover up the rest that mean to fly out behind it LOL.

I still think of it as cursing but also know the teacher is more likely to LHAO when relating how my daughter said, "Gooollly balugas!" instead of well...something else.

Hey today, B&P, we discussed 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13...in particular, "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal."

Mary-LUE said...

B&P, this is great. I loved reading about your foray into blogging. And of course, those fruits of the Spirit, they pack quite a punch, don't they?

I like how you replied in comments here to Cinnamon Gurl that you see it as more of a goal than a label. My first thought when I read the Kindness Declaration was that I would fail at it I'm sure.

I do try to be respectful and kind (at least online!) It is difficult but I know I am always so uncomfortable when those mean things you mentioned happen, especially in comments.

BTW, I loved your last post, too. You and your husband are so different from me and my husband. I can't imagine us having made a list like that but I love that you did. I also appreciate both of your abilities to look inward with a critical eye (good critical, not bad critical.) Even if it isn't always accurate, it shows what I think is the quality I am most striving to keep as I continue to grow older and older and older: the willingness to always learn and to change.

Ta Ta For Now...

Momish said...

Wow! I am really touched by what you wrote (and the nomination, of course)! It means to me coming from you, honestly. I have admired your blog and your amazing writing since the first time I stumble linked over here! Thanks so much for making me feel so wonderful!

I love the idea of a kind blog, and like you said, a goal more than a label! It is truly inspiring, much like everything I have so far encountered in this wonderful blog world!

sunshine scribe said...

The blog world is a kinder place because you are in it. So how fitting I learn of this via your post.

Terri B. said...

I'm reminded of another scripture after reading your post:

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24

I think you've done this with todays post and with many others as well.

Girl con Queso said...

I love it. And I'm so on board with the blogkind.

Haley-O said...

I think my blog is a kind one. I'm snarky at times, but I'm nice in real life, so my blog reflects that. :) Even my gossip column is "nice" -- people always comment that it's "nicer" than the rest. I gotta respect the celebs....They're people, too...!

Lady M said...

Love this idea. I was reading Karen W's site yesterday and looking forward to getting some time to write about it too.

penelopeto said...

love the new movement. i'm a bit of a hippie, so i'm down with the 'random acts of kindness' vibe, but i'm pretty sure i'll never win the award myself.
you are the best messenger of this message i could ever conceive.

Eric said...

Nice job, once again, of calling attention to bloggers we would probably otherwise never find. You might consider a career change to blog-publicist if things don't work out at the university.

Mother Bumper said...

Once again Bub&Pie you've given me something to strive towards. I'd like to be kind all of the time (so far not possible) and I always feel better when I apply love, joy, peace and patience. Wonderful post and I'm so glad you are part of the blogsphere.

DaniGirl said...

I *love* the Kind Blog idea, and will add it to my site too. You always have wonderful links and have pointed out some great new (to me) blogs and bloggers. Thanks for that!

Andrea said...

Will I seem like a horribly contrary person if I say that I'm just really not sure about this?

I appreciate Chookooloonks intentions (and am pleased to find another reader--not that we're lacking), but I'm worried that this will just create another layer of falsity and posturing on blog sites by people who wouldn't understand the difference between kindness and niceness if they fell into the chasm between them.

And I say this as someone who's had to sit on her hands many, many times to prevent herself from writing something unkind, just because I could, when someone hurt me badly and I wanted my bit of revenge. I understand that struggle and find myself there often. I don't always do as well as I'd like, but it's my goal. With or without a button.

Although I appreciate anyone who can make the distinction between nice and kind.

I do try to be kind--not out of a sense of biblical obligation, but because I think it's important. That doesn't mean I always want people to leave my website feeling 'up'. Sometimes I want them to feel uncomfortable, because to me, kindness is part and parcel of wanting the world to be a better place in many different ways, and sometimes, that means we need to confront a problem, collectively or individually, which will rarely make people feel 'up.'

There are many people who are focused on making their readers feel 'up' all the time are very, very nice and rarely kind. I suspect they'll be all over this pretty little badge.

And finally, I'm not sure I'd really want to be proclaim my kindness to the world. IN part my christian upbringing is all "let not the right hand know what the left hand is doing" when it comes to good deeds--and in part, I'd hope that I wouldn't need the button, that my actions and concerns would speak for themselves.

I don't know. I worry--and this is silly, because it's just the blogosphere--but I worry that this is just another way for a lot of insincere people to make a public claim to morality and character that their actions don't warrant, and will function more as advertising and clique-building than anything substantive. What is a reader to do with a blog htat posts the button while the blogger is using slurs or maintaining a public nice face on the blog while shredding someone's character through slander via email? Can they be called on it? If not, what good is it?

bubandpie said...

Andrea - I think the questions you're asking here are exactly the kind of dialogue that ought to arise from an initiative like this one. What does it mean to be kind in a blogging environment? Kvetch did a post about gossip the other day that speaks to some of the issues about email vs. public blogging that you raise here (and though her post was about real-world gossip, many of the same principles apply).

Displaying my enviable ability to overlook the obvious, I actually didn't consider until I read Cinnamon Gurl's comments that the button could seem like patting myself on the back: I thought of the button as a reminder to myself to pursue the objective of kindness in my blog. I saw it also as descriptive of the people who come here: to me, the blogs I read all qualify as "kind," which is not to say that no one is ever snarky but rather that I think all of us do pursue our blogging with an awareness of the feelings of others. It's only recently, really, that I've stumbled across blogs that are consciously and deliberately and avowedly unkind.

I think the clique-building concern may be addressed by the fact that there is not (as far as I know) a "Kind Blogroll" - the button links back to the declaration, but it remains an individual statement of intent from anyone who uses it rather than a club-membership badge.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Kind blog - I'm all over it. If my children are nothing but kind, I will have succeeded.

Jen said...

That's such a lovely idea!

Red Rollerskate said...

When you first mentioned a kind blog, it made me think of people who comment (non-anonymously) in a fair way. It didn't make me think of bloggers who only have nice things to say about others. I blog to relieve stress and sometimes that means saying mean-ish things about people who I assume will never read it (gosh, that sounds horrible). But leaving nice (fair) comments for others is more important to me on the kindness scale.