I’m fairly new to the online world. Not in using the internet, I actually starting going “online” back in the days of BBS’s, thanks to my childhood friend and neighbor, Dan. But until around the turn of this year I had never actually viewed the internet as a way to make actual personal connections. Prior to this year, I viewed the net as mostly for games, throw in a lot of emailing and social networking sites for friends I made offline, and you have my limited use of it in a nut shell.
But at the beginning of February I joined Free Agent Academy, an online community / school designed to help you start your business. This was the first conscious time that I joined a community online primarily to interact with people I had not first met offline.
Since then I have come across numerous blogs and podcasts that are crammed full of USEFUL, INSPIRATIONAL, and / or ENTERTAINING material. I have also made numerous new contacts with people that I would have never interacted with if not for coming across these people online. Several of these new connections have blossomed into friendships that I am very grateful for.
Of all the interactions with other people, be it through forums, comments, emails, chats, etc I’d say 99.9% have stayed positive and been beneficial. It’s the 0.1% and I want to talk about today.
And not even the 0.1% that I’ve experienced. Because honestly, I REALLY haven’t had very negative experiences online. I think once or twice there was the potential to get into an argument through the net with someone, but I didn’t see the point. So regardless of what was said to me, I let a negative conversation die. If need be, I’ll go so far as to block someone, but that hasn’t had to happen yet.
However, last week I came across two instances of people being unnecessarily rude online at other people’s sites. These two instances are what spurred this post. Both instances revolved around a follower of a blog spewing acid at a blogger. In one case, the follower left a stinging comment condemning the writer, and then explaining how the writer doesn’t live up to another blogger. In the second instance I didn’t actually see the email, but a follower decided they would take the opportunity to verbally dissect and destroy the blogger’s life due to a perceived slight from the blogger (in actuality, the blogger never slighted the follower, the follower simply didn’t read what was actually written, got offended, and then went on the offensive).
To top it off, the follower that left the comment was so BOLD and BRAVE that the comment was left under an “Anonymous” name on the blog.
Now I understand that as a blogger I am putting myself out into the public domain. And in doing this I open myself up to both constructive and petty criticism. Ok, I get that.
But what I want you to think about today is do your online interactions bring out the best in you? When you’re interacting with the online communities you participate in the most, are you providing people with a courteous, respectful you? Or do you just say whatever you want, however you feel the urge, because it’s online. Who care?
Because of your interactions with others online, do people get excited when they find out they’re going to get to meet you personally at an upcoming event? Or are you considering hiring security for yourself because you’re likely to get punched in the face because of vicious comments you make daily?
Do you consciously realize that you are dealing with LIVE HUMAN BEINGS on the other side of your comments or emails, or do you put down the first acidic thoughts you have with the thought of, “Take that you ASS!” when you hit send or post comment?
Because if you are participating online in an attempt to build your community I REALLY hope you make sure that your online interactions ARE bringing out the BEST IN YOU. Not the worst.
So please, please, PLEASE, before you hit send, before you click post, read over what you’re saying and make sure that it’s bringing out the best in you!