Be Nice or Leave – Manners Matter Even When They Can’t See You

 Preamble to Tirade

I’ve been online for about 20 years now (hey librarian here, as the original keepers of information we were one of the first to get all this good stuff), and have been heavily engaging with Social Media for about 5 years.  The majority of people I interact with online have been family, friends, clients, colleagues but since my plunge into Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my own websites etc., there’s the eventual possibility of everyone on who’s online anywhere – well maybe not everyone.
I have excellent Customer Service skills.  As a librarian and Canadian,  I genuinely mean it when I ask if I can help, and I can tell you to have a nice day with complete sincerity (hmmmm maybe not complete sincerity, but it sounds like it ☺).  Not that I’m a pushover, I chose a profession that provides service to others so it helps to be friendly, and I grew up in a fairly well-behaved place where most people are quite polite (until they get on their ice skates and you give them a stick).  Not that it’s Eden, of course there are rough edges, but mostly, we just get along.  No, it’s not a bland place either, it’s a lot less hassle to be polite so we can get on with our own thing.
OK, so you get the picture. I’m friendly, polite, respect other people’s space/ideas etc. I’ve worked in service for 30 years (including too many years as a waitress while at university and other naff, but terribly important jobs), volunteered, lived abroad and globe trotted extensively so I have quite extensive experience of human behaviour.
And before I launch into my diatribe, I will emphasize – most people are really, really nice, decent and completely unlike the losers I’m will be haranguing on about next!
Your choice!
Provence, France – 2007
Rhino painter unfortunately unknown
The Tirade
Shift formats and remove the human interface to enter the online world. 
Why, oh why do some people think it’s acceptable to become the playground bully and start playing nasty? 
Who are you and where do you get off!!!!!?
I know there are examples of bad behaviour everywhere in “real life”.  Even in the playgrounds of Canadian librarians but it’s not the norm.
Get online and it’s rife with mean spirited entities (I use entities, as some of these culprits aren’t even people, they’re bots written by some cretinous individual).  I’m not even going to start on spam, scams and emails from long lost relatives in deep, dark places.
My tirade here, is about plain ordinary, uncivil, incredibly boring rude behaviour from those small-minded individuals who abuse Social Media and are hurtful more than harmful.
A couple of examples:
1.  Unliking your Facebook page because you won’t be their “friend”
2.  Announcing on Twitter that they are #unfollowing you because you are boring/stupid/insert descriptive word of choice here
3.  Stalking you and tell you off for “unfriending” “unfollowing” “unconnecting” from them 
4.  Editing a tweet and then Retweeting it as the opposite of what was intended
5.  Sarcastic comments anywhere, with no attempt at irony or wit, just mean
6.  Ambushing an online conversation so it becomes all about them and their agenda
7.  Just plain telling tales
Honestly, what’s your point?
Rude behaviour on Twitter has become so prevalent that there is a term for a Twitter abuser – Twanker – “(noun) a person, organization, or company who uses bad form on or exhibits bad behavior on Twitter.”
Of course this term has since been “rebranded” or highjacked and is now cool in that anti cool way they have now.  You can’t even behave badly on Twitter without making it some kind of marketing ploy!
There’s a lot of serious online chat and research into this “rudeness” phenomena and why it’s so common in Social Media.  I’ll mention one article here:
I think the most interesting point is “moral disengagement.” The safer someone feels (i.e. anonymously hiding behind a computer), the more distance they have from the consequences of their actions, the easier it is for them not to care.
Fortunately, I have very little regard for the feelings of bullies and small-minded, mean-spirited individuals so I use the tools Social Media has given me.
Until you play nice I will continue to:
    – Moderate all the comments on my blog
    – Block
    – Report uncivil behaviour
    – Unfriend
    – Unconnect
    – Unfollow 
    – Uncircle
    – Delete, exterminate, get rid of in all its guises!
And mostly—-IGNORE
Because I do realise the bullies out there are only seeking attention.
Do you have any experience with online bores and bullies and what tips do you have to deal with it?  I’d love to hear your ideas.
Thanks for listening
J
A rose for the really, really nice people
i.e. most of you
Church Stretton, UK – 2009


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2 thoughts on “Be Nice or Leave – Manners Matter Even When They Can’t See You

  1. A piece of straight talking Julie. I am sorry if you have experienced this type of behavoiur it really is unnecessary. However, as you said most people are polite and helpful, I always move away from the unpleasant things and surround myself with the gorgeousness. Julia

  2. Moral disengagement is right! I say that people feel tough behind their keyboard, but I doubt that half of the stuff they say online they would actually say to someone's face. A lot of the aggression comes from people with low self-esteem taking their feelings out on others. PS- I love that your politeness partially comes from being Canadian! haha, Canadians are always so polite 🙂

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