The internet is a wondrous thing. I don't know how I did homework in high school or college without Google and EasyBib.
Where did I get questionable craft ideas or learn about new books?
How could I shop for ANYTHING AT ALL without leaving my couch?
But the internet is also ugly. The anonymity and lack of face-to-face contact makes it very easy for people to be extremely nasty to others, resorting even to people making threats of raping or killing those who disagree with them. When did this become ok?
This happens on Twitter, my social network of choice for professional conversation, with alarming regularity, though usually not among the people I follow. Recently, a female game developer received death and rape threats; baseball player Curt Schilling posted a proud dad tweet to his teenage daughter who was then deluged with hateful tweets, including rape threats; Robin Williams's daughter Zoe was harassed with messages telling her her father's suicide was her fault.
This is not, however, limited to Twitter.
This meanness is everywhere people are allowed to hide beyond a shield of anonymity. I know how to avoid some of it; I don't read comments on HuffPost articles or other online newspapers, for example, but sometimes it pops up where I least expect it.
Like in my Twitter feed, around an author I've met personally and whose work I enjoy and respect.
I'm not saying people should not be able to express their opinions. Certainly, reviewers can - and should - raise questions about the work they are reviewing. But a line gets crossed when the review of a movie or a play or a concert or a book or an art installation becomes mean-spirited criticism of the person who created the art OR of the reviewer.
While this post had a very specific trigger, it is something I've been thinking about for a long time, especially since my older daughter created a WattPad account and began posting her own fiction writing online. We talked about how she might handle mean-spirited comments about her writing. Luckily, this hasn't happened and I hope it won't.
In the end, I can only control ONE thing, and that is how I behave in online environments. Whenever I have a choice (and that is most of the time) I choose KIND (with thanks to R.J. Palacio).
|Image from http://www.wildrumpusblog.com/2013/09/choose-kind.html|