Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wordy Wednesday

Disclaimer time: For the most part, I've encountered nothing but great folks in the blogosphere, and am constantly amazed with the kindness, generosity and just plain niceness of the people I've "met"...but there are always exceptions to the rule....this post is about those exceptions. Nobody reading this should take it personally, as it is not meant as an attack on anyone I know, or anyone who reads my blog, however, if it hits close to home...well, then maybe you should look within, and ask yourself why. End of disclaimer.

So, here's the thing, I've had something on my mind for a bit now, and I think it's time I get it off my chest. Ready? Okay (said like a cheerleader, clapping her hands)...

What is it about the internet that causes so many folks to lose sight of their manners? Is it the security of anonimity, or is it that in real life they're actually that rude as well?

I ask this because something happened recently in an internet setting that I was witness too. It did not affect me directly, but as an indirect observer I was shocked at the crass manner it was handled by an individual against another (or group of others). Without getting into many details, because I really don't want to put anyone on the spot or call anyone out, plus, what I'm talking about is not necessarily anything most (if any) of you have anything to do with, I'll just tell you that it had nothing to do with those "spam" or anonymous comments that are rampant throughout the blogosphere. This was an entirely different situation. The point is, after I read the exchange, I couldn't help but wonder if this particular individual would actually use that tone of voice (the implied tone of voice in the written message) and those exact words were this a face to face situation. If so, then I have sympathy for those who know and deal with this individual on a daily basis, and I feel a bit for the person as well, because how sad to go through life so unaware of the cloud of gloom they create. But if not, (and I want to believe this to be closer to the truth), then what is it about the internet that allowed "the ugly" if you will, to come out of an otherwise rational being?

The thing is, with this particular individual, this is not the first time I've had a negative reaction to their "written" word. There have been several occasions where I have been taken back and thought to myself "wow, that was rude", so perhaps, it is the person, and not the context.

Still, this isn't about one individual, they were just the catalyst for my line of questioning. See, in this day and age of technology, when we do spend a lot of our time emailing, text messaging, and blogging our thoughts to one another, something has been lost in the art of etiquette and manners.


If I send you an email in which I am telling you about my weekend, and I ask a few questions, or share a few anecdotes, and you respond with an email that ignores everything I told you, and proceeds to tell me only about your weekend...something is lost there, isn't it? I always make it a point to address everything you've said in an email to me FIRST, before I move on to the portion of my email where I tell you about me. This is how a conversation flows, right?

If I send out an invitation to a party, via email, and ask that you RSVP, and then receive confirmation that you have indeed read my email, but don't receive a response from you until you show up at my party that night...well, that's just inappropriate, isn't it?

If we are having a discussion through written means, and something I say doesn't sit quite right with you, knowing the dangers of misinterpretation in the written word, do you get mad and write me off, or do you question what I truly meant? In person, you would have asked me "well, what the hell does that mean?" wouldn't you? Why is it any different in writing?

If we are text flirting (ah yes, you knew I'd come to this at some point) and you ask if I want to see you this weekend (already breaking some unwritten rule, because who asks a person out on a date via text anyway?) and I tell you I have plans already for this you text me back (at the very least) with alternate plans, or do you fall off the face of the earth, sulking in your corner? (FYI, yes, we are speaking of Lawboy here, no, I have not heard from him since the week of New Year's, and no, I don't really care, I'm just using this as an example of the downfall of etiquette).

There are so many other ways in which I have witnessed a disregard for the basic decency of treating your fellow man and woman, these are just a few examples. The question is...why? How is it that we have allowed basic manners to fall by the wayside simply because we are at our keyboards, instead of sitting at a dinner table? And how can we fix it? Because technology is only getting to get grander, and infiltrate our lives more and more each day. So, how do we keep ourselves from becoming a generation of humans who show no respect for each other?

I don't have the answers, I only know what I can personally do as my part...what do you think?


Rebecca said...

Ooooohhhhh, interesting post! One of my biggest blog battles is to be able to disagree with a post, yet still leave a comment that's friendly and not rude. When I can't figure out how, I opt not to comment. In person it's much easier to talk to someone with different opinions.

As for the downfall of ettiquett - There's a difference between an instance and a pattern. For example, a pattern of not RSVPing will stop me from inviting you to things. And I'm pretty big on the Golden Rule idea.

Happy Wednesday!! :-)

Teriana said...

Having disavowed forums and chat rooms for this reason, I've often thought that people will say things on the Internet that they would never in a million years say to your face. Especially people who don't know you well. Yet while reading your post, I was reminded of a guy I had a college writing course with, who would only criticize other's work and never offer praise, and it wasn't constructive criticism either. Though I still believe people get braver online, I think there are some people who are just bitter and unhappy, whose only solace is to take it out on you.

The Ex said...

I was thinking about this the other day because I saw this exchange between a blogger and a troll and I really felt the way she reacted to it was totally inappropriate. Okay, so someone made fun of you or your kid or whatever but really who put that shit out there to be made of?

I don’t know. I try to say and do things I’d do in person. Best way to go.

Kaytabug said...

WHOA! You sure put a lot out there! Full of things to ponder! I agree with everything though. I try to watch my P's and Q's but I am afraid somethings I write in comments aren't taken the way I meant them to be taken... I feel a lot is lost when one can't hear the tone of the voice. Esp. for me as that is a big part of how I talk.

Great thought provoking post!

Jill said...

first, out of courtesy i will say that i agree with you. there is something seriously lacking when some people are online. better yet, you spend half an hour typing a long detailed email and someone says, great to hear from you, i'm busy, will write later - and they never do! however, i will disagree with you and say that it is OverALL that people are 'losing it' - they are rude, intentionally or no - in public, in private, everywhere, not just online. they're self centered. unfortunately, i saw it a lot in my classmates growing up, and now they are parents, or are becoming parents, and their younger brothers and sisters, or their older sibs' kids, and all that family for instance is totally self absorbed, ignorant of issues, and they pass it along to their kids. when we did fun monday ' do good' and i was VERY surprised to know that i was not the only one who does stuff on a weekly or monthly basis for other people, for no other reason other than you can. like sending diaper coupons to friends with babies. i have probably spent more on postage than they saved on diapers, but its something. i tried, i did it, i was kind, thoughtful.. and i hope to god if i have kids they learn that from me too!

qualcosa di bello said...

it would be a good idea if, before one logged onto blogger (or whatever) to comment, this post would pop up in an emily post moment!

i think the fingers often fly faster than that brain thinks & some like to hide behind the faceless comment box. my husband reminds me (when i get riled over things like this) that the person's own private power trip may be the only moment in his or her life that s/he has a semblance of control(even if it is misguided & rude) husband's considerations as such soften my thoughts about what is happening. we all carry great burdens & sometimes the ugly slips through...

but we all still need some etiquette reminders (like your fab post) from time to time!

Unknown said...

Oh think quite a bit gets lost in written word hence my constant :) smiling state. :)