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The Weaponization of Kindness

This week I read an amazing post by Doug Robertson also known as @TheWeirdTeacher on Twitter and it can be found here. It is a great post that provides some commentary on the depth of messages that those in influential "EduTwitter" leadership roles are promoting while ignoring more or less some really important issues. The post really renewed some thinking I have been having lately.

Last May when I was so lucky to stumble on the #31daysIBPOC month of amazing posts I was eager to share them and hoped that they could be amplified. To my dismay many ignored the calls to share them but stuck to their brand messaging. When I and others challenged this action we were met with, "Why can't you be kind?" At the time I questioned if my words or deeds had in fact been unkind. It caused me to pause and back off on my pushback.

This week I have read many posts about "ignoring the negative" or "Don't listen to the critics" I am sure it is only a coincidence that in the same week Doug's post which referred to some messages as Cotton Candy we also see an uptick in calls for people to be kind, or ignore those who are negative from many of the same voices Doug called out.

I do think there is an issue with Twitter voices ganging up on others, I do think people could be generally more gracious than they are. But I don't think calls for kindness always apply and I worry that some have weaponized the accusation of being unkind to simply hide from the tougher conversations.

A few months ago a rather highly celebrated Twitter educator made a few posts that were questioned for their content and insensitivity. Almost instantly accusations of being unkind were fired at those who questioned him by his followers. Painting people as mean when they call out bad practices or bad takes on a situation has become common place.

A few weeks back a podcast accused those who speak out against Teachers Pay Teachers as an "echo chamber of negativity". Painting those who disagree with "us" as mean or unkind is far easier than having a genuine discussion or conversation.

It would be fantastic if we could all just focus on being nice and everything would be better but that is not the reality for so many. When looking at issues of inequality, racism, poverty, trauma we as educators can't just hope for kindness to clear the way. Calling attention to the fact that some issues are so much larger than a soundbite is not unkind, it is not being negative. It is realizing that we have so much more work to do.

I think being kind is important, I wish everyone would try to be kind more. Part of that could be demonstrated with a little grace when called out or in. Instead of calling for kindness when made uncomfortable reflect on why you are uncomfortable. I use to be one that would ask why people were so negative, why they had to call people out. Then I realized what was at stake.

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