Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bringing Common Sense Back...

There is no doubt that each and every day, new people discover the power of the internet. I predict that anyone who uses the internet as a "sounding board" will come to appreciate that most folks don't give a darn what us more frequent users of the 'internets' have to say. Hopefully, people will come to their own conclusions, do their homework, use the world wide web, the news, magazines, newspapers and their own brains to inform themselves. No local blog, internet forum or forwarded email should completely encapsulate any individual's frame of reference.

In the meantime, it is what it is, and suffice it to say, I witness petty behavior all over the internet. These exchanges operate with the attitude "you pay to play". If you throw your hat into the ring, you get what you get. This attitude may increase the likelihood that anyone participating in on-line forums and blogs will be subjected to any number of threats.

It might seem that commentators like a different set of standards when they use the "anonymous" features of the web. However, most of us are not mind readers...keep your anonymity if you need to; we understand that you may have your reasons. Just know that there are also lots of people with lots of time who will hunt you down if you don't agree with them. Some blog owners think that comments that aren't made in face-to-face situations are worthless. Sometimes you just have something to say...and you'd rather be 'anonymous'...that's cool too.

Unfortunately, there are individuals who would like to squelch any discourse they don't approve of or agree with. There are also private conversations among friends that should stay as private conversations. There are folks, too, for whom this barrage of threats damages their work product, stunts objectives, and affects any positive change in their community. In addition, it stifles healthy debate and problem solving.

If you are concerned:

1. Please continue to comment. Remember, you're not talking to your 3rd grade English teacher. You might not have good grammar or sentence structure...but your thoughts, ideas and opinions still matter. We are all adults.

2. If writing a civil, thoughtful response is not possible, remember that we're all adults and our skins are quite thick. And there's always a 'delete' button.

3. Remember, you're never guaranteed anonymity.

4. Wonder just for a moment what your Mom or your boss would think if they were reading over your shoulder or found your blog/comments. Hopefully the persona you use with with boss, your spouse and your kids are one in the same.

5. Site owners keep in mind, you may think you have lots of power, but you don't. Act responsibly. If someone is concerned about slander and/or harassment on your site remind your members that they are responsible for their words and deeds. Be mindful that this is the internet. If someone blows you a bunch of crap get over it. Remember, STICKS AND STONES!

6. There are moments when you will think that your blog or your little 'message board' sight seem really, really important. Remember that it's the internet. You're not that important and the vast majority of the world, community and internet users don't give two hoots what happens on the internets.

And also, remember that at the end of the day, what other people think of you is really none of your business. (yeah, think about that one for a minute or's deep.)