The importance of observing a degree of etiquette on the internet has been brought home to me with great force recently. Most of us maintain a level of decency in our face-to-face relationships, yet we somehow figure the impersonal nature of cyber space gives us license to be less respectful.
A couple of times recently I have posted something on Facebook or in a blog that brought very strong disagreement. One might even say violent disagreement.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. In fact, I’ve known for a long time that most of my beliefs represent minority positions. Even though I fervently believe I’m right, I accept that fact. Many, if not most, of the people who hear what I say or read what I write are going to disagree with me, and that’s okay.
What is not okay is being rude in that disagreement. I’d like to suggest a couple of rules of rectitude for all of us to follow.
If I post something on Facebook with which you disagree, feel free to comment on it—but do so briefly and politely. Don’t be rude, and don’t kidnap my post for a long, involved rant on the subject. If you want to spend more than a sentence or two in your disagreement, do it in your own post, not mine.
Similarly, if you disagree with something I say in a post on my blog, feel free to state that disagreement, but, again, do so briefly and politely. Don’t attack me as if I’m some kind of idiot who needs your permission to express an opinion. Don’t use any foul language or write a 500 word piece stating your opinion as if it were the only opinion on earth.
Someone operating under the name “Christadelphians” wanted to take issue with a point in a recent blog. It wasn’t even the main point of the blog, but this person wrote a long comment attempting to correct me as if I were a kindergartner and he were my teacher. I could hardly believe the rudeness of this person.
Assuming he had a legitimate misunderstanding of the point in question I referred him to an earlier blog that explained the point in greater detail. He went to that piece and read it, then made three comments, once again acting as if he were an expert and I knew nothing of what I was talking about.
I have since removed his comments to the trash bin, but I don’t like doing that. I’d rather leave all comments, both favorable and unfavorable, where readers can see them, but I couldn’t stand letting this person hijack my blogs like that.
When you read a blog—mine or anyone else’s—if you disagree with what it says, always feel free to make a brief, polite comment stating your disagreement. Please don’t ever use bad language or make lengthy statements as if you were correcting a student. To do so is rude and shows a gross lack of consideration for the blogger in question. If you have a disagreement serious enough that you feel it just has to be stated and will take more than a sentence or two, write your own blog and post it on your own site.
As I wrote this, I wondered if I’ve hurt anyone’s feelings in the past with comments I’ve made in response to things that person posted. Knowing how strongly I feel about some things, I very well may have. If so, I’d like to apologize here and now. I hope I keep this in mind for the future and practice what I’m preaching here.
How have you dealt with hurtful or pompous comments people have made on your posts?
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Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.