Be kind online, we may need it some time

Be kind online, we may need it some time

My poor parents must have suffered in silence when I decided, in my youth, that I didn't care what people said about me. Not about some things, anyway.

It's not that I was terribly wayward or anything, but it didn't take much in our straitlaced Asian society to set tongues wagging.

I figured it was nobody's business what I did as long as it didn't hurt anyone.

True that, but it occurred to me recently how my parents must have taken umbrage on my behalf when word got back to me about disparaging remarks being made of my teenage daughter.

They were implied more than said outright, and made by one person, who lumped her with other kids, but it riled me nonetheless.

Who are you, I thought, to judge my child?

Of course, it wasn't as though I had never said mean things about other people's children before, so I resolved (again) not to be so cavalier with other people's feelings.

I just hope I'll have the willpower to be better than this person the next time her name - or her children's - comes up, though I doubt it.

The truth is, you'd have to be a saint never to have spoken ill of anyone or be spoken ill of. We put down co-workers, children, spouses, bosses and friends, with nary a thought, at the drop of a hat.

A child being mentored by a friend asked her last week if she had ever been in a situation when someone is nice to you but says bad things about you behind your back?

"Of course," said my friend. "And usually, it is more about the person, and his or her own issues, than it is about you."

Sadly, knowing this doesn't always save the day from being ruined. I have had hate mail from readers who told me I was an educated idiot, and if I had any friends, they were just pretending to like me.

They upset me for days until I realised I didn't have to carry the weight of people who don't matter.

But the true cautionary tale is never to speak ill on the Internet, where you could be outed by a Facebook "friend" for your stupid, ill-judged remarks and then lynched by an outraged nation.

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