I am one who has a Facebook account, however I am very careful as to what personal information is posted on this trolling tool (www.soulpastor.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html).
I personally have never taken Facebook seriously but have been intrigued as to how much people personally self disclose. The deeper we sail into the new online world of communications, the sadder I get about its future. I’m OK with criticism, I’m fine with disagreement, I’m perfectly capable of handling angry notes, that’s not the issue here but what’s really stunning is how hostile people are to each other online these days.
The last two weeks, because of imposed boredom of being at a mandatory conference, I needed some fun in my life and began to “update my status” and was amazed at the responses that began to pour in…PEOPLE, Don’t you work!? I began to continue some “status” thoughts with the US election running hard. Again, I am amazed at the responses of people. All of a sudden, I realize that once again, there is etiquette that is needed on the web and that people should not be so serious and personal on such an impersonal sites.
Without question, Facebook is a community of “FRIENDS” but are they really your friends? How many people really know your birthday? How many friend requests does one get from people you do not even know? How many friend requests do you get from people you want to stay away from? Anyway, after the election and messing with people and wanting to be the pope, I thought that should toss out a reminder of internet guidelines and hear your thoughts.
I believe it is important to understand the culture and the community that you are a part of. Every site and community has a different flavor. Myspace is different than FaceBook, Yahoo 360 is different than Linked-In and then add the world of blog spheres. They not only have different technical platforms, they have different personalities on both sides of the controls. One moment you may be having a chat about the latest gadget and political joke on site A, and the other moment you will find insult on answering questions or discussing personal topics.
When you get online, don't try to fake it. There are plenty of people who recognize you from other social circles and environments. What you say online will be noticed in the other circles. It may not be written in the text on screen, but people will take note of places you have long forgotten. I believe that we need to treat people like you were having a face to face meeting. So many people become rude or negative online when they would never do so in the real world. There is a tendency in the web world to make hasty statements or jump to conclusions and coming off like an idiot.
I am convinced that on the Internet, you are anonymous, (to some degree). Since you don’t have to face the person you’re talking to, you don’t see any reason to display courtesy. Because you are somewhat anonymous, you worry that your comments might get lost in the shuffle, so you lay it on thick to enhance your notability.
Many people who spend lots of time online are, in essence, replacing in-person social interactions with these online exchanges (OUCH). With so much less experience conversing in the real world, they haven’t picked up on the value of treating people civilly. That is, they haven’t yet hit the stage of life when getting things like friends, a spouse and a job depend on what kind of person you are.
People used to dream of a ‘global village’ (Marshall McLuhan), where maybe we can work out our differences, where direct communication might make us realize that we have a lot in common after all, no matter where we live or what our beliefs. But instead of finding common ground, we’re finding new ways to spit on the other guy, to push them away. The web makes it easier to attack, not to embrace.
So people, first write your responses or posts in a Word .doc file. This enables you to have a handy reference guide to proper English, grammar and spelling so you really do not look all that stupid. Try and gauge the community before posting. Don't just jump in and shoot off your thoughts. Who is posting? Do they know you? Do you have a relationship off line so that you can further the conversation? Remember the interpretation! We read messages shared in text form based on whatever mindset we are in at the moment. Don’t forget that if I’m in a bad mood, or reading in a hurry I might interpret your sarcastic humor as plain rudeness. Try to remember this reality when you type messages.
People often get grumpy for all the wrong reasons. In a written environment, people often fall prey to a few words that flavor an entire relationship. One brief statement does not make a relationship, nor does it create one. A relationship is made by a consistent level of interaction over a period of time.
Expressing your thoughts are important but make sure what you've written is relevant and encourages people to continue the discussion. Online communities can be amazing tools for making connections for business and personal interests, yet it can also be a detriment to how you are perceived. If you post offensive content, pretend to be someone else (my personal angst), or try to annoy others it can get ugly. It's not worth it and no-one will think you are funny. Have some common decency when you write a post. Don't patronize people with false concern by writing "Sorry, but you're wrong." Don't insult people's views that differ than yours, people deserve respect, and chances are...you are wrong! :)
Be sensitive, if you do step across someone's line, apologize! Treat everyone online as if you are dealing with a REAL friend. Do not take your preconceptions into the conversation. If they say they are offended, offer an apology and move on. If you don't understand a question or comment, ask for clarification rather than posting a knee jerk response.
If all else fails, enjoy a cup of coffee! There are bigger issues in life. I like St. Arbucks.