It started with John Gruden. Specifically, John Gruden’s bangs.
For those of you who “don’t do football,” this is John Gruden:
He is the former coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in 2003 became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl. He is currently the color commentator for Monday Night Football on ESPN.
He has deeply goofy bangs.
A few weeks ago, we were watching Monday Night Football and I was getting irritated with Gruden’s commentary. I thought of a terrifically snarky comment, complete with a zinger reference to Gruden’s bangs, and grabbed my phone so I could share my dazzling wit with Facebook.
Then I stopped.
It wasn’t nice. And if it’s not nice, it doesn’t need to be broadcast.
Whether or not I think John Gruden is the most interesting commentator on ESPN, that’s his job and he gets paid way more than me to do it. And whether or not I like his hair, he has a Super Bowl ring and I have…. whatever the opposite of a Super Bowl ring is.
Facebook and other social media sites have made it far, far too easy to indulge in our penchant for snark and the witty take-down. But you know what? It’s unnecessary, mean, and – in most cases – not nearly as clever as we think.
It’s a very small step from ridiculing a public figure (like John Gruden or Miley Cyrus) to ridiculing people who we assume will never find out, like the woman in front of you in Publix who had the audacity to have 11 items in the express lane, or the fat man riding a tiny moped up Thomasville Road. It is another small step to ridiculing people you may or may not know, even if they do find out. And that’s called bullying. And it’s all over the news.
Look, John Gruden has no idea who I am. He’s certainly not going to kill himself because I don’t like his bangs. But ridicule is a bad habit to develop, both because it acts as a cancer in individuals and because it snowballs in a group. We should be looking for the best in each other, instead of tearing each other down. It’s cheesy, but it’s true. I want people to look at Tyler and tell him that he has beautiful eyes and a sweet nature, not make fun of him because he has unruly hair and a messy desk. I want him to learn to appreciate others, and appreciate the differences between others.
And if I want him to do it, I have to do it myself. Do as I do, and all that.