I was alerted to the existence of this holiday by fellow blogger Adam Stuck and his army of typewriter monkeys.
This was a delightful coincidence, because sometimes I pick random topic to think about and collect information on throughout the year. One of this year’s is “Virtual Hospitality: What Is It, How Do I Do It, and How Can I Research It If I Just Made Up That Term?” I think this holiday qualifies.
Being nice to someone on the internet doesn’t seem particularly hard. I am not, on a regular basis, a troll who goes around saying stupid and incendiary things online. I also don’t post things on Facebook with the sole purpose of making people jealous, use my blog to gossip about others, or forward on chain emails.
But I also don’t often intentionally use the time I spend online to encourage others. So, here’s my chance (and yours).
To get you started, here are a few ideas for being nice:
Post a compliment on someone’s Facebook wall. Just because. Be sincere. Be enthusiastic. Don’t wait till someone is dead to tell them you appreciate them. This is hard for me to do, but super important.
Send someone an interesting article/blog post. Then ask them to share their thoughts. Private message or email might be best…extensive and useful conversations never seem to happen on Facebook walls. I speak from personal experience when I say you can learn so much from this one that you should do it all the time, every day. Or at least right now.
Send an email to someone who isn’t expecting it. I suggest a family member. Seriously, write you grandma a few lines telling her what’s going on in your life. She’ll be delighted.
Review a book that you liked on Goodreads or comment on someone’s blog. Say intelligent, polite things. Defy the entire spirit of the Internet.
Read this article about how to avoid drama on Facebook. This is more the “stuff not to do on Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day.” Or, you know, ever. (Fun fact: I copy and paste pointless Facebook arguments into a document on my laptop. Then, someday, if I teach writing, I’ll have my students read them and rewrite these logically incoherent debates into something that’s both gracious and persuasive. Don’t get into my files.)
Find a friend who does art or photography and look through his/her work. “Like” pictures. Send a message being specific about what you think is awesome. Share a favorite on your Facebook wall.
Do that thing you said you were going to do and never did. Watch that sermon clip someone posted on your wall two months ago. Read your cousin’s blog. Check out the webcomic your roommate gets really excited about. Then tell them that you did this, and talk about it. Better late than never.