How's Your Online Etiquette?
If you have good manners in real life, it may not be safe to assume you know how to behave online. But should the rules here be any different? The Daily Posters at WordPress recently wrote an article about comment moderation by the blog host, but lately I’m much more fascinated by the actual readers’ comments and what these statements say about that individual. Online behavior generally mirrors the non-virtual segment of the world we live in: most people are polite, but there are a few that are just plain rude. We all know it’s much harder to discern a tone of voice in the written word, so doesn’t that mean we should just try a little harder to explain our thoughts or seek to understand others’ intentions?
Maybe we lose our sense of compassion and understanding when we engage without being able to see facial expressions or connect using our other senses.
Last week STFU, Parents was all over the news that really matters. This blog gained a huge following by making fun of crazy and self-obsessed things parents say about their children on their social media forums. The blogger remained anonymous for several years because she felt her identity was irrelevant to the content of her site. I say… that’s cool, her blog, her choice. And who really cares? But some need to speculate about why she hid, convinced she had to stay anonymous because her content was cruel. Her shtick is snark, so why is anyone getting upset about this? It’s not like she bait-and-switched anyone. And besides, are we too proud and insecure that we can’t laugh at ourselves? She earned a book deal out of it and recently revealed her identity. Now here is what’s just plain stupid to me. The media loves to make a story out of nothing, so they try to villainize her by taking polls, suggesting she might be evil. They blow up false impressions about who she is, trying to pit her against all parents and kids. It turns out that the majority of people think she’s funny, and only a few actually think she’s going to hell. I’m intrigued by this hate that goes hand in hand with any rise in popularity.
Why do people feel the need to bash others for expressing a thought? Why do they choose to get offended by what is designed to be a joke? What has happened to our collective sense of humor? Are we all so sensitive that every thought is offensive anymore? (Think PCU– we’re not gonna protest!) And not only that, but who are you, guy who reads a blog post that says something you don’t like, so you feel the need to leave a nasty comment insulting the author? Or what about you, gal who sees a comment on a post that you disagree with, so you decide to start an argument– not a discussion– an argument. Who are you? Will you not be satisfied until you’ve done your best to try to make someone else look stupid? Are you insecure enough to be so insulted by some stranger’s opinion that doesn’t concern you, that you can’t move on without having the last word?
Who are you?
And while I’m on it, who’s the guy who writes in to the local news anchor to tell her she is a bad role model because she is obese. Who are you, and don’t you have anything better to do with your time? I don’t know about you, dear readers, but when I see something I don’t like, I close the window. If I don’t like someone’s appearance on TV, it consumes my thoughts for about a half a second. I have never thought to take the time to write a letter about it. I mean, do these people have lives? I also want to know, do these people ever write positive comments or letters?
On a personal level, I’m occasionally reminded about this odd behavior (and complete waste of energy.) Every once in a while I get another email notifying me that someone has commented on a post I wrote. I open it in fear, hoping it’s not going to be one of those that makes my blood boil for a minute. I’m talking about the typical comment that is most likely from a disgruntled dental patient who searched “I hate the dentist” only to stumble upon why their dentist probably hates them. Not quite the answer these haters were hoping for. They don’t like it when the tables get turned. For me, it’s one thing when someone wants to share her horror dental story in a comment that is as long as my original post. She clearly has something to say, and I’m glad she can share it on my blog. I certainly don’t mind it if someone respectfully expresses negative opinions about dentists. Sometimes that has proved to be a great opportunity to understand our opposing sides and maybe clear a few things up about the profession. What I do mind is this nonsense:
“I dont disagree with your list but you come off like an asshole making a whole blog post about it. I dont see people who are waiting tables making FAR less than you complaining about the idiots they serve. Maybe try being grateful youve had the opportunities that youve had and even the opportunity to leave your job when so many are without.”
Any reasonable person could point out a million ridiculous things about this comment, but we’d be here for days. I’ve noticed a trend with these types of comments. They are always made by non-bloggers (or at least non-WordPress bloggers.)
I want to believe this guy just doesn’t know better, but instead he reveals a true reflection of who he is, not me.
Those in the WordPress community know better. I’m proud to be a part of that community. (Okay, that’s enough warm fuzzies and ass-kissing to the WordPress Powers That Be.) When we blog, we put our opinions, feelings, and thoughts out there every day. We know what it’s like to expose a piece of ourselves, and we know what it’s like to give and get support for our ramblings. We also know what it’s like to get no support, and somehow we know how to share opinions in the form of rational discussions, not obnoxious spats.
Whether it’s because you feel safe to say whatever you want while hiding behind a screen; or without that human connection, we lose our ability to relate; or because you just happen to be a complete jackass… maybe you should consider this in the future. The next time you decide to get so fired up that you’re ready to spew nasty comments about someone else, just remember your words say much more about you than it does anyone else.
Eh, why am I saying this stuff anyway? My community doesn’t do this stuff. I’m just preaching to the choir now.
Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net