12 Most Important Reasons I Don’t Bash People Online
It’s been brought to my attention recently that I can sometimes seem touchy when people get into heated arguments in the online world. Ehem. Well, I may be touchy, but I also think that there is a lot more strife and ill will floating about the interwebs than there was even 6 months ago. If I do get touchy, it’s because I feel that the disintegration of civility makes all parties look bad, and when I see good people looking bad, it makes me feel bad, and gosh darn it, I don’t like to feel bad!
OK, I feel better. Anyway, I thought I would explain why I avoid what I will call online people bashing (some may call it stiff criticism). These are just the thoughts that float about in my head. Maybe they will resonate with you, or maybe you will roundly criticize me!
A quick definition of bashing as I’m using it here, by the way – some may call it “calling someone out” or otherwise noting that a person or their tendencies are suspect, stinky, crappy, snobbish, or some other adjective that is generally negative in connotation. All based on perspective, but of course. OK, here we go. Why I don’t do any of that in the online world.
1. The situation almost always disintegrates
This is sad but true. I would say that in 9 cases out of 10, even if the blogger or tweeter is cautious and careful, the conversation will spiral downwards into unpleasantness. Granted, there are some accusations that can’t really be handled delicately, but the best of intentions may lie behind them. In any event, these days it seems that calling one person out is really like calling an entire army of people out. Teams are developing and one punch can lead to all of the dugouts emptying. That creates a lot of ick. No thanks!
2. I want you to feel comfortable doing business with me
I predominantly use my Social Media presence as an extension of my profession. Because I’m in a service industry (yes, marketing is a service industry) I want anyone who sees my online content to feel like they could work with me without any regrets. If I’m posting or tweeting about how much this person stinks and that person is crappy, will I be inviting people to work with me? I’m thinking not. Debbie Downer is not a good approach in the business world, nor is Freddie Fighter.
3. The person doing the calling out ends up looking bad
When you’re in the thick of things, this can be hard to remember, but it’s really true. If you are calling someone out, even if you have a 100% legitimate reason to do so, it makes you look bad. People will read your tonality, your perspective perhaps, your word choice, and they will think, “Man, that person must have a vendetta against that other person.” They may think you don’t have patience. They may think you’re short-tempered. In any case, it won’t paint you in the most positive light possible.
4. People can take it too far
I’ve seen this a lot lately. A little online squabble devolves into very serious, very ugly attacks that go well beyond the framework of the initial conversation. Even if you are a fan of a little discord, these situations are always painful to watch, and I think a lot of people come away from these experiences with genuinely hurt feelings and bad sentiments about the online world in general.
5. It’s never just about one person
As I mentioned above, calling out 1 person is not really just calling out 1 person. If you call out someone, their friends will lambaste you in your comments section or on Twitter or wherever it’s going on. Then your friends will come in and defend your honor. It’s another case where I think the intentions all start out in the best way possible, but again, once the dugouts are cleared, you’ve got a much harder time cleaning up the mess.
6. Your intentions may well be questioned
Sometimes, it seems likely that a person is calling someone out just to get a bump in traffic or to get more attention. The unfortunate thing is that this tactic often works. This means that even if you have a legitimate bone to pick, people new to the situation may skim the surface and say, “Ah, ok, this person is after traffic or link bait.” While authenticity and transparency are tired buzzwords in the online world, the fact remains that most people will jump to conclusions. This conclusion is a rather easy one to jump to.
7. Collateral damage
The thing I hate most about when OTHER people call out folks is that I often find myself torn between the two sides. I mean, hey, I like to like everyone! While it can be cathartic and healthy for people to talk it out, as it were, in the online world it feels increasingly like you need to pick a side. I don’t like to be cornered that way, so I certainly don’t want to put anyone else in that situation. I don’t want to make you feel like you have to choose between me and someone else you like or respect. That’s not fair to you.
8. I want to keep the doors of discussion open
This may result in a circular argument, because I know that a lot of people feel like disagreement is as open as the doors can get. I would agree with that to a point, but when personal insults start flying and punches are landing below the belt, that’s when the door feels like it’s closing, at least to me. In the online world, I want people to feel like they can critique what I’m doing (with civility hopefully) and disagree with me (with civility hopefully) without me writing a post 5 days later about how dumb they are. Whenever I see a call-out post the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I.” How do I know you won’t be calling me out next? I don’t want people to feel like they have to walk on eggshells when they tweet me or visit my blog site.
9. There are more productive ways to spend one’s time
Honestly, I don’t really have the time to dedicate to a crap storm. I don’t know how other people do it. These posts tend to get comments for days and days. Hundreds of comments, sometimes. And so much of it is sludge and negative. Yuck! I’d rather be kind of boring and get along with people rather than spend my time in the Bog of Eternal Stench. Just a personal decision on my part.
10. I don’t think it’s what my readers want
Do you ever scan blog sites and say to yourself, “Boy, I hope someone is creating the virtual equivalent to a fist fight today!”? I know I don’t. I visit blogs because I want to learn and converse. I tweet with people for the same reason. I don’t think my readers visit my blog site so they can watch me lay waste to someone else. I think they want to talk about how we can use Social Media in new and exciting ways or how you can get through the tough first month on Twitter. Isn’t that what your readers are looking for, too? This reader is looking for that anyway…
11. It’s more pleasant to build people up
On occasion, I’ve had the itch to write one of those “I’m calling you out” posts. Hey, I’m human. People tick me off sometimes, right? But you know what, when I get that itch, I scratch it by writing a post to build someone up. I might do one of my “Good people doing good things” posts, or maybe I’ll tweet out how awesome a person is doing with their growing online presence. It makes me feel better, I’m fairly certain it makes the people involved feel good, and there’s no bitter aftertaste. Yay!
12. In the end, the love you give is equal to the love you take
The online world is very interesting in that it really does reflect back to you what you send out. If you are all bitterness and snark, guess what you will get back in droves? Yep, bitterness and snark. If you are supportive and helpful, guess what you will get back? Predominantly, support and help. Now there are some people who thrive on strife, and I get that. If that’s you, bashing people makes perfect sense. But if that’s not your preferred means of getting along in the online world, you don’t want to dish it out. It will come back to bite your butt. I can literally guarantee it.
Again, these are just my opinions and thoughts as I sign into my various accounts online. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m not saying this is the better way to go. But from my perspective, this is what I prefer. I know it may be deemed boring. I know at times I may seem touchy. But really, I just want you to put your best foot forward, and I want to try to keep putting my best foot forward. You are what you write. You are your words.
What do you think?
Photo courtesy of iansand. Some rights reserved; used under creative commons license.