Two years ago, my article, "To Me, Mean Pictures Aren't Funny" ran on The Huffington Post, was picked up by several other media outlets, and altogether had over a million views. Then, The Huffington Post promoted it on their Facebook page, and I got the shock of my life.
Out of nearly 900 comments, the great majority disagreed with the premise of the article. They disputed the idea that it's wrong to take a picture of a total stranger and post it online for public ridicule. Literally hundreds of people commented that when someone goes outside looking less than perfect, for whatever reason, they are fair game to be mocked on the national stage. Many commenters also suggested I remove the proverbial stick from my ass and learn how to laugh at the less fortunate, too.
My first thought was, "I don't even know how to respond to that."
Then I realized... Oh, yes, I do.
You respond to a lack of humanity with a great big dose of humanity.
Hateful, mean pictures show up on the Internet every day, with people gleefully leaping in to add their ugly voices to the fray. But if we can counter that -- if we can think about the human side and the human cost of those pictures, we can make the world a kinder place and we can all be just a little better.
So I made the short film, Ballpark Bullies, showing what it would feel like to be innocently going about your day and discover that the cruelty of strangers has been inflicted upon you. More importantly, it gives a hint at how that picture might have happened and what the rest of us can do about it.
Everyone involved in making this film was a volunteer, and I funded it entirely myself, because we all want this message to get out there. Please watch it, share your thoughts, and if you are so inclined, share this little movie. Let's each do our part to restore some humanity into the discourse. It's needed now more than ever.
Valerie Alexander is an author, speaker, filmmaker and coach. Her books on Happiness, Success and the Advancement of Women in the Workplace can be found on Amazon, and she can be reached through her website, SpeakHappiness.com.