Cate Sevilla writes...
Way back when we were under four feet tall in height, and the greatest piece of technology we knew of was a Lite-Brite; our mothers and fathers were constantly nagging us to "mind our manners". Cut to, oh, a couple of decades later, and I'm wondering what the hell happened to that concept. It used to be bad when someone broke up with you over the phone, instead of in person. Now we have people being dumped through text, fired over email, and berated in blog comments.
In the '90s, when more and more people were starting to have Internet access and computers in their homes, news reports swirled about people "losing touch with reality" and "forgetting the value of real human interaction". I spend my days at a computer and online, as I'm sure most of the people reading this do. However, I still feel as though I have a pretty good grasp on how to carry on an "In Real Life" conversation with someone (despite the urge to say, "BRB" when going off to the toilet) and can even still manage to say "please" and "thank you" at the appropriate times. I don't think spending time online kills one's ability to be a fully functioning member of society. However, I'm starting to have a real problem with people who forget that the same manners and social rules that exist out in "The Real World", still need to exist in the online world, albeit in different forms.
Simply because we use fun pseudonyms (like RUBJN782941), and digitally altered, unrecognisable photos of ourselves; we get this sudden rush of freedom. This horrible concept suddenly washes over us: "No one knows who I am! I can say anything!!" Now, most of us don't go around randomly messaging, emailing, or commenting on other people's blogs simply for the purpose of telling them what how stupid they are. However, there are way too many people out there who use the Internet and online communities to "Unleash The Fury" that they deem unacceptable to express in "Real Life". Why is it when we can hide behind a laptop screen, and fake name, that some people just let their psychotic alter egos run wild?
Forget just being childish and rude, it's cowardly. Cowardly to post a "OMG! You're so ignerant!! Genious, you should cheq uR factz B4 U rite sumthin so OMFG DUM!!1!" on a random person's page, just because you happen to think you're hilarious. There's a difference between a debate, and being a jerk. There are blogs and comments floating all over the net that make us cringe. We disagree with what others write. So much sometimes, that we (okay, I) break out into hives just from reading them. However, for the most part, that doesn't exactly give us the right to insult, name call, or in some cases, threaten the author of a blog.
There is, of course, the argument, that if you're going to post something on the Internet for everyone to see/read, then you need to prepare yourself for a potential backlash. That is very true, because there always needs to be that sense of personal responsibility when posting things online. However, there needs to be boundaries. There needs to be a sense of politeness online, considering that the Internet and its communities consist of people. People and human beings with feelings, who are offended and hurt just as easily online, as they are in real life.
I know that people can say/write some very insulting, stupid things on the Internet that make it difficult to not comment and ask about their astonishing stupidity. However, before you hit that "post comment" button, you may want to ask yourself if it's really worth posting. If the author of the blog was standing right in front of you, would you say to their face what you're about to post? Sometimes it really is better to follow the old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." We all have our moments when we want to flame somebody for the holes in their logic, or the flaws in their arguments...and that's fine. Blogs and forums, for the most part, are about discussions and debates. However, going out of your way to tell someone that they're an idiot, or give them unsolicited advice, probably isn't a good idea. Just as telling people online how to raise their children, isn't a good idea either.
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