Pulpit ~ noun. An elevated platform used in preaching.
I'm sure most people know what a pulpit is – I probably didn't have to define it. I'm also pretty sure most people would associate pulpits with church establishments. But a church, of course, isn't the only place people can be found preaching. Preaching – whatever it is the folks may be spewing – isn't restricted to religious institutions.
President Theodore Roosevelt, known for using the word bully as an adjective meaning great or wonderful (or to draw from Bill & Ted, excellent), coined the tern bully pulpit when describing the White House. He thought it was a terrific platform from which to push a particular agenda. (Hard to argue with that, right?)
Words are funny, aren't they? The same word often has multiple meanings. Most of us today wouldn't think of the word bully as a synonym for superb. We tend to think of bully as a reprobate who picks on the weak. And platform certainly doesn't have to be a physical surface on which one stands. This brings me to my point. Just a little over a century after Teddy left office, I think we have a new bully pulpit – the Internet and social media.
Have you seen some of what's out there – on-line – that's written about people? The most vitriolic, vile, scathing remarks are posted with reckless abandon – and usually these posts are made anonymously. The cowards.
So, why is it that people are so hateful on the Internet? I guess I already answered the question – the anonymity makes it possible. In my experience most people have a tendency to be non-confrontational – even over the smallest of things; sure, they may inherit the earth one day but you can't repress forever. I imagine a lot of these on-line bullies spend their face-to-face time with others biting their lips and cowering – too afraid to speak up. So, when given the opportunity via the net, secretly hiding behind the screen and user names like wikipupu51, they privately unleash their hateful rhetoric. They probably find it empowering. It's not, though.
If you don't have anything nice to say
Turn the other cheek and walk away
Differences of opinion are good to debate
But not anonymously and full of hate
Offer your thoughts, express your view
That's what the educated generally do
Words are strong and full of might
Especially when they aren't right
False claims aired by cyber posts
And personal attacks hurt the most
When typing on-line, don't be a fool
Keep in mind the Golden Rule
Don't become a computer culprit
Shut down the Bully Pulpit!
A simple pitch for civility ~ M.