On Using the Internet Without Being a Dick

Photo on 2015-05-30 at 11.40 #3.jpg

Ok, so in all honesty, this applies just as much to real life as it does to how we behave online, but for some reason - maybe it's the perceived sense that we're just a name on a screen, rather than an actual living, breathing, feeling person, people seem to forget how to treat people when interacting on Social Media.

I've seen a few examples of terrible online behaviour lately, but rather than getting bogged down in discussing these examples, I want to share a few quick thoughts on how to handle someone doing shit you don't like - and like I said, this applies in Real Life, too.

If someone is doing something that makes you uncomfortable, check in with yourself and ask yourself why you're uncomfortable and is there anything that YOU can do to change your experience.

For example, if you're a dude who feels uncomfortable seeing a mother breastfeeding her child in public, first of all you could perhaps just NOT LOOK - you could also question why it's apparently acceptable for dudes to piss on trees or against walls without rebuke, but hey one step at a time. You could move, or if you REALLY felt it necessary, you could actually have a conversation with said mother, and if she felt that you were actually worth her time or energy, she might be able to educate you on her rights to do so.

What you shouldn't do, is take a sneaky photo of the mother feeding her child and post it online without her permission, and invite input from everyone you know.

If someone takes the time to point out how something you've said, done or created might be offensive, or has hurt them in some way, LISTEN.

That's it.

You don't have to agree with them.

If you don't understand their point, ask them to clarify it for you, or do some research and seek out some information about what they've had to say.

Remember that to this point, anything that someone says about you, your work, or your behaviour, is really a reflection of who THEY are. Statistically speaking, 2% of all people who come into contact with you are going to fucking HATE what you do - no matter what it is, so unless you feel that there's something of value in what they have to say, leave it alone. 

Screen Cap. Block. Delete. Move On. is your best friend in this case.

Anything you do beyond that, is your responsibility, and is definitely a reflection of you.

Treat every person you interact with respectfully - even if you feel that they've wronged you somehow, or that you're absolutely right in this instance, it doesn't give you the right to misrepresent their words, or their image to your social media followers.

Don't belittle them.

Don't mock them.

Don't take their words out of context.

DO take the time to consider not only the other persons feelings, but also their personal safety.

This isn't about people being overly sensitive, or being too easily offended, or an attack on free speech. It's about considering the fact that our actions always create a reaction of some kind - even if it isn't the kind we intended.

These are the reasons that there's an entire book dedicated to the victims of internet shaming, along with Brene Brown's entire career, the fact that Project Rockit needs to exist, and Monica Lewinski's TEDx talk went viral.

If someone you used to know seems to be happily minding their own business, and getting along just fine without any input from you, before you approach them, ask yourself if getting in touch is actually going to be a positive experience for them.

Is there anything you can really offer them that they don't have already?

Sometimes, it's best to just accept what happened in the past, take whatever lessons you can from the experience, and look towards creating something better in the future.