My daughter is thirteen. Last week she came home from school upset because her group of close friends were having a party and hadn’t invited her and one other girl. They had lied about what they were doing that afternoon (they had a half day) and then proceeded to post photos and videos of the party on Snapchat, for my daughter and the other non-invited girl to see.
When my daughter called them on it – asking them on Snapchat why she wasn’t invited and saying she could see all their online interaction – they ignored her and continued to post.
This behaviour bothered me a lot. It showed a lack of kindness. I gathered my daughter up and we went to the cinema together to see Lion. While her friends partied, we learnt about one young man’s determination and bravery as he searched for his Indian birth mother.
The incident got me thinking about kindness. How we treat strangers matters. How we treat our friends matters. It says everything about who we are and what we believe in.
I run a Book Club for young readers. Last month we read Wonder by R J Palacio. If you haven’t read it, please do. It’s about August, a ten year old boy with a severe facial abnormality, and what happens when he goes to school for the first time. It’s a remarkable book that really makes you think about how we treat people who look different. It’s also about choosing kindness.
I love blogs like this one. I love chatting to my book friends on Twitter. I like catching up on my friends’ activities on Facebook and seeing their photos on Instagram. However sometimes I find myself thinking: Hey, why wasn’t I at that party? or They look like they’re having way more fun than I am or I wish I was in Tokyo/Sydney/London. It’s only natural to feel left out sometimes. When I’m posting myself I try to remember this. I aim to be mindful of others and kind.
As the writer, Henry James once said: “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”