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If You Wouldn?t Say It To Their Face…

Then Don’t Type It Online!

1.relating to society or its organization.
2. an informal social gathering, especially one organized by the members of a particular club or group.

“Relating to” no longer applies. We have so many divides and tribes that it seems everyone is only relating to their little world — not the big picture of social as it is defined above. Social gatherings now seem more exclusive and narrow minded. Not good.

The irony of social media is that the lack of face-to-face contact has made folks less social. The arrogance, condescension and nastiness I see while folks are hiding safely behind these screens makes them bolder than they normally would be. Allowing them to type in a manner in which they wouldn’t dare speak if face-to-face.

In our increasingly uncivilized society rude communicators are being falsely emboldened.

I only use social for my business activities and blogs like this one. I’m not there for personal stuff — I don’t share what I’m eating, where I’m going, my personal opinions on anything. My life is off-line. I know, that makes me and odd-ball but that’s the way I like it. When I started my online consulting business over 20 years ago that was the rule I made and I’ve stuck to it. Business online; life off-line.

But the “real world” seeps into my streams. Either because I’m following someone that exposes personal with business — and boy is that disappointing when that happens. Or when a hashtag I’m following is hijacked for unrelated commentary. Profanity, statements of fact that are fiction, condescension for anyone different or of an alternate point of view.

Bold Anonymity

The hate, the nastiness and many times the in your face ignorance. I see folks stating things that aren’t true, name-calling — and the “F” word — a lot. I’ve always been of the belief that if you have to resort to profanities you really have nothing all that important to say or listen to.

Threads go on and on with user after user piling on with their insult or commentary trying to outdo the last. It’s sad. Sad that this is how folks chose to use their time — and energy. All for a moment of attention — look at me!

This type of communication seems to be increasing every day on social media. Some of the stuff folks type has caused me to actually say “oh my” or “wow” out loud. I’ve even gasped at some of the terms typed to describe the folks they are replying to.

Ask a question they don’t like — how dare you! Point out a fact that may not be in line with their agenda and that too gets overlooked while they type back with venom and vigor. Note a proven fact or piece of established knowledge and you’d better duck to avoid the barrage of name-calling coming your way.

It’s not about you. It’s about them.

If you are online you’ll run into these screen warriors at some point or another. We all know what kind of person resorts to using that type of language to make their point. It shows they don’t have a point and we already know not to take them seriously. We’ll let their choice of verbiage speak for itself.

From a business point of view, which is all I can speak to since that’s all I do online, I run into these folks on a regular basis. I volunteer on forums where I’m there to help folks out. Onliners go there to ask questions and I assume to get answers.

There are those that when I don’t say what they want to hear they get nasty with me. In most cases when they don’t like what I have to say about a process, platform or design — I’m the bad guy. Why is that? A process is a process. A platform is what it is. Design principles and basics may be subjective but there are standards and proven ways of doing things to get the best results.

I would assume the same analogy could be made for personal social and email interactions. Words have meaning. How you use them matters. Nothing changes that.

Would they say the comments they type to my face if they were sitting 4 feet across from me here in my office? Probably not. While I know there those who just communicate that way, I also know that the majority are simply frustrated. So I don’t take it personally.

Where do we go from here?

You and I don’t join in. We don’t pile on. We don’t use profanity. We understand that there are living, breathing human beings on the other side of this screen. While we may not know why they are so negative or terse, that doesn’t dictate we be the same.

When I run into a nasty person in my day to day business communications, I never respond in kind. I ignore the nastiness and reply with courtesy and if apropos stern professionalism. Same should go for your social media interactions and personal communications. Don’t respond in kind. Show the other side how thoughtful people communicate. That’s the only way things will change.

For those who have personal social accounts, don’t fall for trolls. Refrain from jumping in on a thread of haters. That doesn’t accomplish anything.

If you want to be taken seriously in your online communications (email, social media, forums), always communicate from a point of courtesy — and knowledge. Don’t act like you know what you don’t know.

Make sure that you are clear, that you state facts, that you make the effort to type in such a manner that you won’t be misunderstood. If you can’t take the time to communicate like an civil educated human being, take a deep breath, wait until the next day — or better yet don’t communicate at all.

Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.
? Edmund Burke

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