What Happened to the Crayons?

Where to begin on the topic of the internet and social media? I remember it showed up in my world when my kids were in middle school with AIM. All the parents were up in arms that it would ruin their spelling and grammar … everyone wondering where we were heading. Boy has the world changed since my kids were that age!

When my kids started interacting through the internet, I was so heartsick to witness hurt feelings when they would see photos of friends at parties to which they weren’t invited, or a boyfriend/girlfriend would break up over the computer. I talked with them, at length, about having the respect and dignity to talk to people in person, face to face.

I will say that at least one great thing came out of that early time … all my kids are the most amazing typists. When I was a kid, I steered clear of typing class because I was irrationally afraid that if I knew how to type, I would end up with some kind of typing job that would deter me from my ambitions to be an actress. Well that is probably the dumbest decision of my education, as I still hunt and peck for the most part. But I am getting sidetracked…

In the 10-15 years since those early fears, technology has sky-rocketed. Now, there are so many ways to communicate and share your life. I think that mostly this has been fun. Now, with just a few keystrokes (which takes me longer than it takes you for sure), we can connect with anyone around the world, at any time. It’s free, live and it allows us to share elements our lives, even when distance keeps us apart. From recipe sharing and birthday reminders (I’ve considered joining Facebook just for this benefit) to any number of platforms helping people raise awareness and money for important causes, there are plenty of reasons to love social media. And while I still love to read the actual paper, social media has made it possible for people to discover things they would have never known – be those political, social, entertainment, etc.

blog60_2But it’s not all positive and it’s not all fun. I have been out to dinner with my husband and we see people “posing” for Facebook (you can tell the look) … or even crazier, a couple sitting at a table and both are on their phones and not talking to each other!!! BUMMER … what ever happened to being in the present?

If anyone has seen the movie Brooklyn, what struck me the most was the simplicity of dating. Actually sitting at dinner and asking about the other person, and being interested in their response.  It seems like today, everyone is anywhere and everywhere, instead of right where they are.

AND don’t get me going on kids … everyone plugged into an electronic device. What happened to conversation and good manners? And what about crayons and paper??

As for myself, a year and a half ago, my daughter suggested I start a blog because she thought I had good advice … I love decorating, gardening and cooking, and she thought I should share that. That seemed daunting (especially with the whole hunt and peck thing … thank you, Mandy), so I decided to start simple and open an Instagram account. I liked the idea that it was mostly visual, and once I started, I was hooked. I actually think about my posts … look for something I think “my followers” would get a kick out of, whether that’s photos of my garden, behind the scenes shots at Days or just something cool I’ve seen.

blog60_3I have to say, I never DREAMED that anything I’ve posted would warrant a negative comment! Why would someone waste their time throwing nasty, negative thoughts out into the atmosphere? For what purpose or what gain?  It truly baffles me. And I’m not even talking about comments directed at me per say, but I’ve seen comments made to people I know – sweet girls from my show, who put up what they thought was a fun photo and people, under this mask of anonymity, pick them apart about being too skinny or too whatever. It always shocks me, because we are all putting ourselves out there, with really good intentions … sharing because we are under the impression (or perhaps illusion) that the followers are having fun too. When did it become okay to be mean?


It reminds me of a silly scene in a movie where the husband and wife are in therapy and the therapist says “It’s safe, you can talk about anything.” The husband does and it backfires and he says, “Wait I thought we were in the nest … are we not?”

I understand we’re not in a nest when we post publicly, but I don’t understand this strange world in which people feel free to post something that they’d never say face to face. Where will it all go from here? I will be curious to see.

I, for one, will continue with my commitment to see the good and wonder in my life, optimistically share and encourage kindness. And I’d love for you to join me in that … because kindness is contagious.

Cheers to a positive 2016 and beyond!


  1. Carol J. Gaus

    One of the above readers said they are becoming obsessed with THE PLANK. Well, me too. Grateful to my friend Hilary for turning me on to the site. I’ve unplugged from a lot of social media but this will be a regular read for me. This article proves there can be intelligent writing on the internet.

  2. Estella M.

    Okay, I’m a little late to the PLANK party. Although, I will say that I am quickly becoming obsessed.

    Thanks for sharing this. As an educator (and aunt), it’s an issue that I feel very strongly about.

    You, are a genuinely refreshing soul.

  3. I’m trying to get my daughter and her friends to understand this. Standup for what you believe but be kind to everyone.

  4. Vicki Luccio

    Love your message in this post! Thank you for sharing ..💕

    • Kathy Marion Garber

      Mary Beth your a ray of sunshine in my not so perfect life. You seem to always be happy, smiling when you’re not having to do a intense scene on Days. What’s your secret.
      Lots of love: Kathy

  5. Natalie818 (ESQ05)

    I rarely comment, but read and love all your posts. I so agree. I love that we have technology, but it has its time and place (hello — last year we took our 3 kids, ages 4 and under on multiple long-haul flights — I and all passengers around us praised the technology gods for inventing iPads).

    I was a latecomer to Facebook too — I resisted for so long, but now I see its value and am so glad I’m on there. I’ve always been unable to stand the thought of never seeing certain people again — for example, during travel. You meet and connect with other families or couples, and are so sad the day you leave, because you know you will never see them again. Facebook has kept us connected to these wonderful people, who have become treasured friends — and now we even plan trips together. It’s so great to be able to connect with friends and family all over the world in an instant, to be a virtual guest at the wedding I couldn’t attend, to keep up with births, graduations, birthdays, and other milestones. These are the things that keep people connected, and without technology, it would be impossible to do so for all the people we wish to keep in our lives.

    As to rude / mean commenters, before the days of IG / Facebook / Twitter, I always noticed that *some* people were rude to actors no matter where they saw them. At a restaurant, in line at the movies, at a Q & A at a school (even at the brunch event in November)…it didn’t matter. Some people probably think that since you are making yourself “available” or “public,” that they need not abide by proper boundaries. They’ve seen you on TV or whatever, and think they are and can be “familiar” with you — when they don’t actually know you. That’s my hypothesis, anyway. I’m sorry you or anyone else in the public eye has to deal with that.

    I think you responded to the commenter during the “blue-nails” hoopla with such class and grace. While I understand that your fans feel protective of you and felt the need to defend you, I did notice that the rude commenter did in fact apologize — yet many of your followers continued to slam her and (in my opinion) were being unnecessarily harsh with her when they could have just ignored the comment and thus avoided turning it into a whole “thing.” Two wrongs don’t make a right, and all that…

  6. I love this blog! The kindness question has been one that we struggle with in education often. I teach special needs kiddos and the struggle is not theirs it is those that see them as different!! This blog hit home when it came out, in that I struggle where manners have gone and when did we just stop teaching them? The same week you released this blog, I was approached by friends of mine in another school district to take a kindness challenge. We are posting daily a #kindnessis my students have to post one kindness thought or quote daily, and during the day I have asked them to do one random act of kindness. Yes, that act is usually the same one everyday; yet, it is a start. I couldn’t ask for better kids to do this with, bc they trust everything I tell them and will do it with unconditional thoughts. So we are doing random acts of kindness, this is harder for me then it is for them. However, I am a happier person by looking for the good in a day instead of dreading it. My family has been asked to do the same thing, the random acts of kindness are easy for two of them, and somewhat harder for two of us. But we are focusing once again on dinner together every night instead of just weekends…..this is hard bc of our different schedules but we have successfully done that for one week now. Means more cooking on my part, but that is good too. We are making healthier choices now also. I love seeing the post on instagram and twitter about kindness, and I love that you like many of the post Mary Beth! Shows that you aren’t just randomly picking a subject and then moving onto the next, love that personal piece added in. So THANK YOU for making me search deep inside for where I lost the kindness piece of everyday simpleness and sharing just a smile to help make a better day for someone else.

  7. Ashley Parker

    Mary Beth,
    Let me begin by saying how awesome it has been to see everyone take ahold of #kindnessis and truly spread this message!!!! I am not a Twitter girl, only Instagram so I can only imagine how much it has spread on Twitter as well! The part of this blog that really hit home was the example of your kids being left out of different activities. I am 21 and I can remember just a few years back having those conversations with my precious mom about those hurt feelings. It would always break her heart to see me hurting, and because of those situations she to this day chooses to have no social media. And I respect her for that, but on the flip side I am doing my best to show her that not all of it is used for the negative. I have always been a fan of yours, but honestly I never had an insight to the person you were off screen. I remember the day I followed you on Instagram and I thought “WOW this lady really seems to be the real deal.” So thank you for being such a positive light in a sometimes negative and dark world. I only hope one day I may have the opportunity to thank you in person one day, but if the opportunity never comes I hope this message leaves you encouraged. Know that your blogs are bringing positivity to others! I am proud and honored to share your message!! Thank you for being you, and reminding me the importance of being kind even when it is difficult. Blessings sent your way!

  8. Christine

    Well said Mary Beth! My husband and I are always amazed by couple we see out for dinner who don’t say a word to each other because they are both on their phones.

    Hope you have a great birthday tomorrow!

  9. I am with you on the typing class..I did take it but not seriously because my career goals were headed elsewhere..little did I know I would be typing on a keyboard over half my life it seems. Thanks for a great blog and continuing to inspire as an actress and person. I too am baffled by the way people follow other people just to post mean or snide comments. I guess we need to kill them with kindness! Maybe we could send them some crayons…….

  10. Warning: This is going to be a long response.

    Thank you for this blog post, I really needed to hear this right now. I am in my mid-30s so I got to grow up with crayons, playing in the yard & just “be a kid”. By my late teens technology took over my life. I began with chat rooms. I can credit those chat rooms for some of my friends today & my decent typing skills & spelling though. haha Then came MySpace, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Today I am more than addicted to the internet/social media. My phone is constantly glued to me. My bff is also glued to his phone. 1500 miles now separate us & when we go on trips together we spend much of our time on our phones! So crazy! We are definitely “those people” you & your husband see at dinner. On our last trip, we actually ended up making a pact where we couldn’t use our phones for a two hour block for a couple days. We actually had to “be in the present” as you say. It was awesome! Next month when we are together again maybe we can have a six hour block on a few of the days!

    As for the kindness portion of the blog entry… I am a brutally honest person & will fully admit, I don’t feel I am a kind person. Presently. I am sure people would disagree as I have been told I am kind, thoughtful & generous to a fault but I don’t feel that way about myself. I will say though, I am always shocked when people are mean through the internet. I have no filter (I’ve been told I am like a bucket without a bottom) & yet I would never dream of writing/posting anything negative! I may not be very kind face to face but I am too honest to be negative through the internet.

    The reason I said I needed to read this blog post now is because I was very unkind to my ma last weekend. This is a great reminder for me to be kind. All of the time. To everyone, especially family.

    Thank you again Mary Beth for this post.

  11. Mary Beth,

    Thank you for such a positive, thought provoking, inspiring blog that my coworkers could talk about both yesterday and today.

    As Labor and Delivery nurses, we are amazed at how social media impacts our daily life. Often the first Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram post is made as soon as the baby arrives.. Sometimes even before the delivery is finished. Gone are the days where a baby is born with just his parents and the medical staff. It is amazing how people can’t “be present” for such a private event without thinking of documenting it.

    We are also floored by the disrespect, and negativity that we witness in our profession by others. We certainly see people at their worst, but strive to always be kind and caring. My take on it is this… I woke up today. Someone else didn’t.. It’s my choice to be happy, be kind and maybe make a difference in someone’s day. It’s impossible to know the struggles others face. We spoke of ways to maintain a positive environment at work when things sometime are stacked against us.

    So thank you for you positive blog, for motivating us to be better, and for sharing yourself freely. We certainly hope you see this. Be Blessed, be kind, choose joy and color outside the lines…. Life is to short not too!!!

    P.S. In between deliveries we are working on a list of questions for you for a possible video blog!!

  12. Mary Beth,

    Thank you for writing such a a thought provoking, inspiring blog to discuss with my coworker’s both yesterday and today.

    As Labor and Delivery nurses, we are often amazed out how social media is used in our job. Often, the first Facebook, Twitter and Instagram post is made as soon as the baby is born. Sometimes before😳😳 Gone are the days where a baby enters the world with just his parents and medical staff.

    We are also saddened by the disrespect that we endure in our chosen profession. We certainly deal with people at their worst and strive to remain kind and caring. My take on it is… I woke up today, someone else didn’t. I choose to be kind, to care, as I have no idea the struggles of others. How wonderful to think I may make a difference…

    So thank you for being a positive example, thank you for sharing yourself so freely. We sure hope you see this!! So be blessed, be kind, choose joy, color outside the lines… Life is too short to do anything else…. ❤️❤️❤️

    P.S. In between deliveries, we have been working on a list of questions for a possible video blog for you😉

  13. Mary Beth,

    Thank you for such an inspiring blog, that provided a thoughtful discussion at work both yesterday and today. As nurses, we are amazed at how social media has impacted our jobs. For example, we are Labor and Delivery nurses, and often, the first Facebook, Twitter or Instagram post is made as soon as the baby arrives…. Sometimes before the delivery is even over…. 😳 What happened to a baby being born with just their parents and medical staff and not publicized as the event unfolds??? It’s crazy how nothing is private and sacred in this world and how people aren’t even present at such a beautiful moment in their life.

    We are also amazed at how disrespectful people can be to those who are there to help them. We certainly see people at their worst, but strive to always be kind and caring. My take on it is this… I woke up today, someone didn’t. It’s my choice to make the best of my day, to be kind to others as I truly don’t know what the other person is struggling with. We sure hope you see this comment and thank you for giving us something so positive and inspiring and a topic to discuss ways to combat the negativity we encounter in our daily lives. Be Blessed, color outside the lines, choose joy… Life is too short to do anything but!! ❤️

    P.S. We are working on a list of questions for you for a potential video blog in between delivering our babies today😉

  14. Christie L.

    Well said! Thanks for always being positive:)

  15. MaryBeth, I always love your blog. Today was no exception.

    It couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been having discussions with people regarding rudeness that we see online. It’s awful. I’ve had to deal with rude people at my job but social media really opened my eyes. I am horrified at what I read sometimes. The nastiness & bullying to purposely hurt another person. It’s unacceptable, in my opinion.

    How were these people raised & how are they raising their children?

    I think your statement #KindnessIs is perfect.

    I hope everyone reads your blog & thinks before they comment or tweet negativity. Would they like it done to them? Probably not.

    Again, thank you for a great blog today & I hope you’re enjoying your hiatus.

  16. This is a great concept! I see a lot of bad things in my job and I always think how much better off we could all be if people were just nice and lifted each other up instead of bringing each other down. Thank you for this reminder!

  17. Jeanie Woodward

    Hum such a good question , what happened to crayons .. Guess what ? I have seen that evidently someone else has realized this problem and started making adult coloring books !! 😋😋 So I got myself one , when I opened it I found myself trying to decide which one to color first . Then I realized at almost 69 that kids are missing out on this fun time , made me 😔 …
    But a happy ending , at Christmas my daughter got my two granddaughters coloring books , they are 14&16 , they checked out the new clothes , CD’s , etc .. But the first thing they did after breakfast was head in to color !!! The computer came in second , a selfie stick never even got opened , the coloring books was the big hit !!! Oh what a great feeling !!! Just like a fuzzy blanket , hot cocoa, popcorn and a great book !! You gotta ❤️ It Mary Beth …

  18. Traci Whiting

    Every blog you write or pic you post makes me love you more! It is true Stephen picked the perfect name for you–SWEETNESS all around!

  19. Spot on again MB. I really think we can devalue a person too easily on social media and I have been struck lately how many adults do this. It baffles me that not only do people think it’s ok but that they can’t see that other people get to read it. I really think there should be a “think” button on all social media before we post.

  20. You are a very wise woman! I love your advice and sweet spirit. SN named you perfectly, Sweetness! It is so much easier to be kind than mean. I am a physical education teacher at the school from which I graduated(very small school) K-12. I teach all grades, I’m amazed at how young kinds learn to be mean. I try to preach, kindness, generosity, the Golden rule, etc, etc. Each year the task becomes harder and harder. Your words of wisdom are greatly appreciated. I am also the mother of two older girls and now a two year old, my baby can work by phone better than me, she can text, find pictures and even posted her first video to FB last week! Luckily, we are also outside people, so she will play in the sand box, bicycle, climb trees etc. I know many children never experience this wonderful thing called called childhood. Don’t feel bad MB, I was a gym rat so instead of typing I was in the gym, shooting hoops….following my dream to become a high school basketball coach….just like you did acting….so, I’m right here with you just pecking away with all two of my fingers!!! lol
    I look so forward to your blog post each week, we really are so much alike…now, just to meet you in person one day!!

  21. Lorraine (dramamamanot)

    I, too, remember when the age if social media started many years ago. We tried to stop it. There was no stopping it. It is here to stay but so should manners and respect. Mom always said “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” It seems to me that more people needed to hears this bit of advice. As for your comment regarding enjoying the company we are in at the present, I have to tell you a story. My 3 children and I were together in the family room. The television was on but I was not paying attention to it because I was busy responding to a work email on my phone. When I was finished I looked up and saw my 3 children each with their faces in their phones. I had to take a picture of it…….then of course I posted it on social media. LOL. Thanks for the blog.

  22. You couldn’t have posted this at a better time. Dealing with some very unkind people lately. It’s like they breath better by tearing others down. Trying to encourage some young people in my life to not let it bring them down, but to rise up with kindness. This definitely helped me to keep my focus and remind me that kindness is always, always best. <3

  23. Oh Marybeth, you did it again. Another one I will pass on to my husband. So well said, so poignant, and so you. So much positivity to take from this. I love you. Keep up the great work, even if you are still pecking away.

  24. I love this blog Mary Beth. Especially because of the fact that I’m raising two kids in a world where social media seems to be the only way to be social. I will admit, I am guilty of texting my daughter while I’m on the couch & she is up on her room, but I’m with you when it comes to spending time actually talking! Cell phones are put away when it’s dinner time. Whether at home or at a restaurant. I can’t stand to go out & see an entire family on there mobile devices. I am proud to say that if I’ve taught my kids anything, it is kindness, respect & manners (truth be told, my 10 year old still needs work. She thinks she’s a princess & we actually call her “your highness”). They respect their elders, they help when they can, and they are simply nice girls. It’s what I’m most proud of as a parent. As far as your followers go, I can say first hand that we are the best! 😊 We have actually had Twitter conversations about being kind, and we’ve made a pact “no negative tweets”. We all love hearing from you on social media and we get all giddy when you respond to one of our tweets. I saw a great quote that I truly try to live by. “Kindness, it’s not an act, it’s a way of life.” Thank you once again Mary Beth. Love reading your blogs!

  25. Great Blog. For every one nasty comment, sting as it may, the blessings from all your blogs, tweets & instagrams are worth it. I want to say that you have an AMAZING tribe!!!! of followers. Yeah there may be a grinch or two or three but honestly kill them with kindness and post on. Being a fan is Great but meeting these AMAZING Tribe mates along the way….PRICELESS. Events, boards, forums, hikes, plays, chats and most of all laughs. Everyone comes together for this HUGE love of you and have been inspired to do great things and hopefully, do them with kindness and love. Thanks for a GREAT Blog. I love my Tribe!!!!XOX

  26. This blog really hits home and I couldn’t get through it without crying. My whole life I have tried to find the good in people, even if they’re nasty towards me I try to show kindness to them. I’ve tried to raise my children the same way. But I can’t tell you how many times they have been hurt by others. Especially my daughter, she has come home from school in tears so often because she found out she hadn’t been invited to something. She’s everyone’s friend when they need her and she is always there for them. She has the sweetest spirit and unfortunately taken advantage for it. I’ve taught her to be a friend to everyone and I try to encourage her and let her know it all be worth it one day. She’ll be remembered as the girl who was and is kind. They will appreciate and admire that quality in her. There will always be mean people in the world but it’s kind people like you who people will always gravitate to. Kindness brings out the good in others. Thank you Mary Beth for sharing.

  27. BTW, saw on IG that it’s your baby’s b-day. Happy b-day to him. It’s my baby’s b-day too. She is the big 3 today. Party hats and hugs all around!

  28. Sometimes I am utterly amazed when I see the mean things that people say on social media! What ever happened to treating people the way you want to be treated?!? It’s kind of a simple rule to live by! I often wonder who raised these people, because my mom would have kicked my *** for bullying people. Keep up the great work on your blog, I’ve really been enjoying it.

  29. jennifer brock

    I LOVE this post!! I never understood why people feel it is ok to say things on social media that they wouldn’t normally say. Just because someone you are ‘following’ posts a picture or makes a statement doesn’t mean you have to comment on it. I think being mean or making a negative comment reflects on who the person is that made the comment. How you treat others when people aren’t looking (or by hiding behind a computer) says a lot about who you are.
    It’s simple to me..If you don’t have anything nice or positive to say, don’t say anything at all.

  30. Mary Beth, I believe these “mean people” are clearly lacking something in their own lives and post just to get a reaction. The block feature on Twitter and IG is something I’ve used far too often. To me, it’s better than engaging with these people and giving them my attention.

  31. Great Blog Mary Beth!
    I really enjoy seeing your posts on twitter and instagram, and I am very happy that you share your life with us! I too, am always very surprised when I see negative comments on other’s personal accounts, especially if that person follows the one whom they are being unkind to… it makes no sense to me.

    I am always inspired by your positivity, and your kindness 🙂
    Thank you!

  32. I completely agree with you. It baffles me that people are just so plain mean and hurtful for no reason other than they can and won’t get called out by name b/c they’re too much of a coward to let their identity be known. I’m not on facebook, and don’t intend to join. When my kids get older, I’m not sure I’ll let them join either. My kids LOVE to color. Give them PLAIN paper and a some crayons and they are good to go. I am hopeful that you (and the others) get many more positive people who love you and love that you share than the nasty souls who only want to bring you down just to make themselves feel better.

  33. Terri from Cincinnati, OH

    I have 2 older daughters and then we had a later one who is only 10. My older two are so sad that their little sister is growing up in a different world than they did. That being social media and electronics. They climbed trees, went “creeking” and those things just seem to be lost. I’m guilty of being hooked on social media, however, it’s such a scary world where everything and anything goes. Unfortunately, people do take advantage of others and use this platform to be mean and hurtful. Your positivity is so contagious with your followers that we literally freaked at seeing something negative posted. I hope you continue to gift us with the fun, behind the scenes, informative and entertaining things that you do! One of my favorite quotes…..”Don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle!”

  34. Really love the topic this week, MB. Social media can be a serious jungle. The mean-spirited, abjectly depraved comments people make flummox me. No one’s perfect, and I’ve been too harsh plenty of times. I try to make up for it when I realize I’ve done it. But then there’s truly mean. Like people want to hurt you. I’ve called people on this and asked them, why are you being so mean to this actor, or this stranger, whatever. And if I don’t get some choice words telling me what I can go do with myself, I often get, “freedom of speech” and “I have a right to my opinion.” Well, sure, they’re free to speak, but the question is … why would you want to? Why would you want to say, “You’re ugly?” Maybe these people feel ugly, themselves, and this is their way of feeling some power. Maybe they’re just terrible people. But there is absolute safety in the somewhat anonymous, definitely faceless Internet to behave in a way you’d never do to someone’s face. I really try to practice civility on the Internet, and it’s even in my Twitter bio. Civility is important.

  35. Another great blog and totally agree with you MaryBeth! Social media can have many positive aspects but also negative ones as well. I remember being on lunch break at work and everyone on their devices. I truly missed all the face to face conversations with my coworkers. I also do not like the bashing of others. There is a way of getting your point across respectfully without hurting someone. We need to live in the moment and enjoy the memories in our minds without recording everything on a device. I so much enjoy the positive posts and attitude you share. Your example is the way social media should be done!

  36. Mary Beth – I rarely post a comment but wanted to say thank you for your post. I have often wondered myself when it became okay to be mean. You are so right in saying that kindness is contagious. It is truly a choice that we make every minute of every day.

    Thank you so much!!

  37. Ann Marie

    Kids need crayons and paper! They need unplugged toys like Legos and a baby doll carriage. They also need to be taught to play. Amd guess what….do it outside, on a bike, roller skates!! Computers have their place, without them ,I would not get to read your blog but they should never replace a cup of tea and a chat.

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