“Just put your name on it. That’s all I say. Be a man, or a woman. Put your name on it.” – Herm Edwards
Yesterday, one of my favorite actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away. Hoffman was 46, and died of an apparent drug overdose. It’s an unfortunate end to a father
of three young children, and an amazing actor. I don’t know anything about Mr. Hoffman aside from the work he’s done in movies. I don’t know what kind of guy he is. I have seen pictures of him with his small children, and he appears to be a caring father. I’ve read interviews with him where he dotes on his kids. Using the last two details, I can assume he was, at very least, a good dad. But, I don’t know. I can’t confirm it. I don’t know him. A whole, whole lot of people don’t know him, other than what they think they know of him from seeing him in movies. That said, yesterday I read a piece at Esquire.com about Mr. Hoffman, and I unfortunately read the comments on the piece from readers. I wish I hadn’t, because it just made me sad. Paraphrasing, one commenter tossed out this gem: “This junkie got what he deserved.” I can make a pretty strong assumption that this person did not know Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or his wife. Or his children.
The internet has given us all a voice, for better or worse. It has given Noah and me the opportunity to share things with those that are kind enough to read what we have to offer. Conversely, it has given a platform for people to be mean, nasty, and worse: anonymous. What anonymity offers us is the ability to say something without fear of repercussion. Don’t like someone? You can tear them to shreds on the internet without fearing being discovered. In the mood to post hate, racism, sexism, or misogyny? Hop on Twitter under an alias linked to a nondescript email account and spew away. Yes, the World Wide Web has given us the ability to connect with people in ways that I would have never thought possible. It has also allowed us the freedom to behave like giant tools with fake machismo spouting off at the keyboard in ways that we’d never dream of doing with our mouths in the presence of certain company.
The message here is two-fold. First, be accountable. I set up my words above as an example of absence of accountability. Herm Edwards’ quote is perfect. If you’re willing to say something, have the character and the intestinal fortitude to attach your name to it. Don’t have anything nice to say? Better to not say it at all. Everyone else is doing it? Be better than that. Think. Second, you don’t know what you don’t know. I firmly believe that trashing others is our own insecurities rearing their ugly heads. We often don’t know how to deal with those, so we bring down others in an effort to bring them to our level. It’s a shallow, empty practice. Again, be better than that.
Have an awesome Monday,