We all know the internet can be a breeding ground for opinions and judgments. We even have social media to share our immediate opinions openly, and with some anonymity. Becoming a mother has opened me up to a whole new world of judgments. I am not a perfect mom and I certainly try not to judge other parents. However, I also am not a perfect person either.
Having an immediate reaction to people, situations or information comes naturally. Unfortunately, not every opinion I make is nice.
Now varying opinions amongst people is not a bad thing.
I enjoy hearing other people’s opinions. I like hearing why they think the way they do. New perspectives help me learn and grow as a person. Maybe someone sees a situation from a perspective I never thought of.
But when do opinions cross the line into judgments?
If I am eating some candy and ask you if you want a piece and you respond “no, I don’t really care for candy,” I won’t be offended. If you respond “No, I’m on a diet and really trying to cut out sugar,” I’m still ok right? But what if you respond, “No, candy is a gateway to obesity and we already have a childhood obesity problem. Kids see adults eating candy and think it’s ok and don’t learn healthy eating habits and then it leads to adult bad eating habits and I don’t want to be part of your cycle.” Well, now we have a problem. You’ve expressed your opinion, but you told me I’m part of the childhood obesity problem. That feels harsh.
Sometimes a harsh comment or opinion might be out of concern for safety.
You see someone post a picture of their child in the car and notice they don’t have them properly buckled in their car seat. You could let it go assuming it was just like that for the picture- but what if it’s not, and what if you don’t say anything and it’s not just for the picture and something bad happens. How will you live with yourself?
But what about when it is not a safety concern and just a different viewpoint of how one should parent?
I recently saw a Facebook post of a family at an airport, sitting around a table all on their phones or tablets with some caption about how they should get off their phones and pay attention to each other. People chimed in with how terrible it is that they don’t pay attention to their family. What first caught my attention was the irony of everyone posting their opinions from phones- but then beyond that, this was a family of four (there appeared to be a mom, dad, and two sons) and we have no knowledge of why they were traveling, where they were going, or what was happening. Was this a layover? We didn’t know anything about the family except for this one picture, capturing a single moment in time when the photo was snapped.
What if the kids were never allowed to look at their phones at the table but on vacation, their parents made an exception?
What if they were traveling all day and talking to each other constantly and just needed a small break- and the photo happened to catch them at that one moment? Maybe the parents are small business owners and don’t really get a break from business so they needed to do a little work and let the kids look at their phones? What if they were at the airport all day because of delays and had spent the last 7 hours being a perfect family?
Now before you say it I will. I know, I am writing my opinion about not being judgmental and you are thinking- is this writer being judgmental while writing about these people who were posting condemnations about the family on their phones in the airport? I know the intent of the people who posted negative comments was not to publically ridicule this family. It was their personal Facebook page and I’m sure they were just expressing opinions that when (or if) they have a family they would not want everyone to be looking at their phones and not be spending time together.
Who can blame a person for wanting that? With work and school and life, we get such limited time together that we should enjoy each moment to the fullest. I also want to just throw out the thought that this is one moment in time for this family. We don’t know how the thousands of other hours that we do not observe are spent.
Life is hard. There are days my daughter has been throwing tantrums about everything all day and I am exhausted and for a few minutes, she is playing by herself so I take a moment to check Instagram on my phone. I deserve a mental break, don’t I? I would hate for someone to take a picture of that moment- me on my phone, “ignoring” my daughter- and comment that I was a bad mom who didn’t pay attention to her daughter.
Let’s all be free to have differing opinions and even share those opinions. It makes the world interesting.
Let’s also remember that most of us are trying hard to make the best of this life. Sometimes we make mistakes or we do something you don’t agree with but we still need support in knowing we are not being judged for each moment of our life.