In our age of reminding us to breathe, here is a breath of fresh air!
This 15 year old girl came up with a solution to reducing online abuse: It is so simple; it is brilliant.
On reading about a teenage girl who committed suicide after being at the receiving end of abuse, Trisha Prabhu, was shocked. That a girl who could have had a productive, love filled life chose to deprive herself and her family and friends of the opportunity was nothing short of devastating for her.
She spent hours researching the topic. She found out teenagers tended to be way more impulsive than adults. The efforts led her to Rethink. The problem is we are in such a rush, the heady feeling of sending that email response, that comment out the door, so we can get started on the next stimulus is draining. Something has to give and that something is the ability to stop & think. So, her solution is simple: Her algorithm detects abusive language and pops up a message that says, “You are about to say something that may hurt the other person. Are you sure you want to post this?”
The rate of abuse with this simple action was down by 93%. A whopping 93% of the time, all the brain needed was a second’s introspection.
We are rewarding behaviors requiring instant reactions.
For instance, I do not like it when somebody is notified that I have read a message, because the clock is then ticking. I am fairly certain some team danced their way to the bank after that feature was rolled out, but I cried. Now our brains go: They know I have read it, they are wondering why I have not responded. They now know I am thinking about it. How long can I think about it? Will they think I am thinking about it?
I read another article on the gentle art of letter writing and thought to myself that what I miss most in these days of frenzied communication is the space to ruminate and practice the Art of the Considered Response.
There are certain gems that Lewis Carroll says that are as relevant to the letter writing era as the social media era:
Don’t try to have the last word!
Don’t repeat yourself.
When you have written a letter that you feel may possibly irritate your friend, however necessary you may have felt it to so express yourself, put it aside till the next day.
This post could go a hundred different ways and indeed has been written and rewritten multiple times over the years and has not made it to the blog on each of these occasions because I was not satisfied with it. I still am not satisfied with this post, but I am rewarding my sense of instant sharing by publishing it now.