The People Who Forgot to Be Nice

A poem I wrote because people on the Internet make me sad sometimes.

UPDATE: This will soon be published as an illustrated children’s book, under my new publishing company, Turtlebird Books. Keep an eye out for that. Thanks to everyone who demanded I finally get around to it!

There once were some people,
Who were really quite nice.
They’d greet one another,
Sometimes even twice.

They’d smile and they’d wave,
And let others go first,
They’d look for the best,
Even during the worst.

If they didn’t know someone,
They’d give them a chance.
If they didn’t know something,
They’d find out, or ask.

If something that happened,
Was making them sad,
They’d try to discuss it,
So it wasn’t as bad.

These people, well they
Were like you and like me.
Not better or worse,
Mostly ordinary.

They tried to see good,
When given the choice,
And to build others up,
With the strength of their voice.

But then something happened,
To the folk who were nice.
One of them invented…
A Conversation Device!

At first they were thrilled!
They sang and rejoiced!
Now everyone else,
Could hear everyone’s voice!

People here, people there,
People so far away,
Could be reached with whatever
They wanted to say.

At first, it was great,
And ideas were shared.
At first people listened.
At first people cared.

They could reach out to friends,
And say, “Hey! How are you?”
And all kinds of other
Sweet, good things to do.

But another thing happened,
That took them by surprise,
Because people act different…
When you can’t see their eyes.

It’s a small little thing,
Hardly noticeable at first.
But soon it caused people
To bring out their worst.

See, no matter what
Any one person might think,
About what to wear
Or to eat or to drink,
Which music is best,
Or which movies are great,
Whether something is funny,
Or which people to date…

There’s always a person,
Or many in fact,
That simply don’t see things
Like this or like that.

It’s normal, for people
To not always agree,
But, lost in devices,
It was all they could see.

And from the safety
They found in their screens,
They forgot that it’s never okay
To be mean.

Instead of trying to see,
All the ways we’re the same,
They just looked for reasons,
For anger and blame.

They ignored the good people,
Right there in their lives,
Their friends and their families,
Their husbands and wives.
The people at school,
Who all used to play…
They’d ignore them and stare
At their screens the whole day.

They’d get so full anger,
It would not go away.
‘Cos somewhere, someone,
Had a mean thing to say.

And then they’d get mad,
And say “You can’t say that!”
And they’d think of a mean thing,
And say it right back.

And no one could stop them,
From being so mean,
‘Cos it all feels so easy,
When you’re holding a screen.

In real life, if you look
Someone in their eyes,
You can see how mean things
Can make them want to cry.

You can see in their face
That they’re just like you are,
And not just a target,
To shout at from far.

Because face to face,
When you shout and get mad,
It doesn’t only hurt others,
You also feel bad.

Mostly, there is no
Good reason to fight.
We just make others wrong…
So that we can feel right.

And the fight, in the screen,
Never comes to an end.
And it’s mostly with people,
Who could all just be friends.

It’s sad, because all you can see is what’s wrong,
And none of the wonderful things going on.
Like people just looking for others who care,
To joke with and play with,
And stories to share.

To hold hands and hug,
If that’s what they want to do,
Or talk and tell jokes,
Or to play the kazoo.

To do things together,
Have fun with their friends,
And when there’s a conflict,
To try make amends.

So if you feel like the whole world’s in a mess,
Maybe it’s time to look at the screen less.
If you and somebody, just can’t get along,
Maybe you’re going about it all wrong.

Maybe it’s better,
To just walk away.
And hope that they also
Stop fighting one day.

‘Cos no one is happy,
When they get themselves caught,
In devices where anger’s
The number-one sport.

Forgive and forget,
Learn to walk away.
Because lots of real people,
Have nice things to say

Gord Laws, 2020.

Please note: I don’t know who did the awesome artwork I used for this post. It’s not mine. I just found it on the Internet. If you know the artist, please let me know. Thanks.