The Words We Choose

Inclusion and Grace in Social Media
by MJ Ali

We’re all familiar with exclusion in some form; the unfamiliar and different are walled out, sometimes through lack of access, and sometimes—as is often the case in social media—through adversarial posturing and verbal attacks. Tribalism in social media can be as basic as political bias or as complex as misogyny. The atmosphere is almost always reactionary rather than explorative, and we’re either drawn to those environments, or repelled by them.

Those who fall into the latter camp either walk away from social media altogether, or actively seek out inclusive venues. Inclusion requires flexible thought, emotional maturity, and grace. It demands introspection, active learning, and—at the very least—an open mind. These are not the social media environments where people settle in to the comfort of their own assumptions.

It’s easy to see which social media platforms are getting it wrong. But, which ones are getting it right?

Starting with the lighter side of inclusion and grace, LinkedIn is one of the largest social media platforms in the world. Thought of as the business networking platform, many don’t realize there’s a vast and rich culture in the thousands of groups on the LinkedIn platform. From knitting to social justice, sports nutrition to woodworking, there’s something for everyone.

Yes! Magazine affirms by example, with a wealth of information on responsible social media and the power of positivity. Peruse Medium and you’ll find a network of inspirational reading just waiting to be shared (it’s also a great place for you to share). The ‘me too.’ Movement has used social media for immeasurable good for the past twelve years, bringing sexual violence into the light. Its #metoo hashtag went viral, sparking a global flood of support. UnitedWeDream provides a voice rich with news and information on behalf of immigrants and their families, friends, and supporters. And finally, in this tiny sampler of the limitless good to be found in social media platforms, there’s TED. This massive platform invites you to be inspired, laugh, cry, learn, and to share your story.

It takes more energy to choose our words with kindness and respect at the forefront, especially within the anonymity of online communication. If we’re going to be part of the solution rather than the problem, it’s an exercise worth practicing in all of our communication. Inclusivity is the very action of reaching out. It helps us grow as human beings collectively and as individuals. And we can’t do that without respect and an open mind.

We choose the words we share with the world, and the world can’t wait to see what you’ll share next.

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