Do we still need to be talking about minding our manners on social networks? It appears so.
I am a member of quite a few Facebook groups. I also know many bloggers that have very active Facebook pages that require input from people essentially unknown to one another. Moderating these groups can be a full time job. In these groups people often ask for and offer advice. And we have come to expect that people can be pretty protective of their beliefs and their decision making. The choices they make will be vehemently defended to people they have no other connection with except for their joint decision to ‘like’ a particular page or join a particular group.
Sometimes these groups work great. Sometimes they offer enormous support to those that are struggling. Sometimes they give advice, offer alternative options or opinions and people in return get help, motivation, inspiration or just a virtual hug.
But sometimes, as in something I witnessed again on a page today, people are just downright ridiculous. A group of adults. People who have somehow made it this far in society without completely ostricising themselves from all others they come in contact with. How that happens, one can only assume they save their petulant behaviour for the times when they have a screen as their barrier but certainly not their filter.
Why does this so concern me?
It concerns me because when people respond to innocent queries, questions or offers of advice with nastiness, arrogance and belittling words, then I fear for the messages we are sending to our children. I fear they will think this kind of behaviour is acceptable. I fear that not all of them will have the strength of character, the self esteem and the confidence to brush away the comments as so many adults are forced to and many struggle to.
So I implore you. Stop before you type. Ask yourself if what you are writing has any real value. Is it offensive to someone who is not seeking to cause offence? Is it just something you are saying to make yourself appear smarter or more important? Are you just looking for a loophole in someones argument purely because you can? Just to be arrogant? If it is relevant, if it is helpful, if it is said with respect, then go for it. But if not, for goodness sake walk away from the keyboard, and think again.