Guest column: Be the kindest version of yourself
Words are the most powerful, deadliest weapons we have. While some pierce the heart, others trigger anxiety and self-doubt, and some may even kill relationships. Living in a highly socialised and digitised era, I don’t know when we—as a society—normalised ignorance of the pressing civil rights issues that people once marched and fought for. With each passing day, toxicity, intolerance and hatred are accelerating on multiple social media channels. Some users do it knowingly, some due to ignorance. But none of it is cool! So, just a day after World Kindness Day (November 13), here are five ways to be the kindest version of yourself.
1. Pronouns are not jokes
Ignoring, or laughing at, someone’s identity is one of the meanest things you can do. People representing non-binary genders fought for years to be accepted by themselves, their families, and society. None of these fights was fun, so neither are their identities a joke. If you speak with someone new, ask for their pronoun preference, if it isn’t mentioned in their bio. Assuming pronouns is not an option; make an effort to know and learn other’s preferences.
2. Casual sexism isn’t cool
Toxic. That is what you are to society when you indulge in a sexist conversation. Sexism has created an environment of fear, inequality, intimidation and insecurity. How can it ever be funny or cool? Learn about the gravity of this issue before making a sexist remark, and you may realise how harmful it is.
3. Use Alt-text and CamelCase hashtags
The majority of social media platforms are mainly about visuals. A picture can only be worth a 1000 words to everyone if you ensure that screen readers too can interpret an image. Almost all social media channels provide an option to add Alt-text, which describes the picture in simple broken words for screen readers. CamelCase hashtags can help you be more thoughtful by providing an easily-readable hashtag. Just use the ‘#CapitaliseEachWord’ rule.
4. Watch your words, please!
Using racist or casteist slurs, gender-favouring, polarising words, or inconsiderate religious terms loosely, or even unknowingly, says a lot about where you come from and the education you received. You do not want to be anything close to an ignorant idiot, do you?
5. Feedback versus trolling
People who give you feedback want you to learn and do better. They are constructive and objective. However, trollers just desperately need your attention. People belonging to this group can stoop to any level to break your mental peace and grab two minutes of your attention. Do not get into the dirt by being equally low.
Pranav Panpalia, 25, founder of OpraahFx, is an influencer marketing entrepreneur who believes in entertaining people with respectful and clean content.
From HT Brunch, November 14, 2021
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