Quite often these days, I have come across many instances of internet slander and non-constructive criticism on the web. The negativity seems to thrive in the online social world because people are shielded by anonymity or somehow feel more courageous when it comes to the physically protected action of posting comments online versus offering their opinion face-to-face. I frankly find all of the negativity annoying and distracting.
It seems everyone needs to remember a bit of netiquette, even though I feel it is really just common sense. How do you interact with people normally? Why should it be different when it comes to online communication? When I talk to someone in person, on the phone, in writing or on the web – I treat all with equal respect and attention. As I would want to be treated, which is what we were taught back in kindergarten! Treat others the way you want to be treated.
What is the point of online commentary? I think it is a forum for constructive criticism and thoughtful discussion. Leaving a comment that reads, “You suck…” is neither of those. On the contrary, your credibility has just dropped to negative 100. Even more annoying are anonymous commentators, because they seem to be too cowardly to express their opinion with any connection to themselves. I like the idea of OpenID or similar initiatives so people can be identified or referred to somehow. It puts a bit of credibility back into the web.
Certainly, everyone is entitled to their opinion and when we publish on the web it’s open to positive and negative discussion. I have no issues with people expressing their opinion, even if it is negative. Maybe they just don’t agree or don’t like something. It is completely fine to disagree and that is what fosters innovation and discovery. However, we should all behave like adults and professionals. I like lively debates, but dislike the back and forth of senseless negativity.
I hope that people will put more thought into their comments and think about what they can really contribute. Remember that there are real people behind the websites and forums on the web. Above all, if you really have a bone to pick with someone, contact them directly. You don’t have to scream to the entire world…