online communites

Judgement Day

Judgement Day

Judgement Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

is every day, here on the www.

I’ve talked before about how much I love the internet, the people I’ve met through it, blah blah yawn.  It’s a funny thing, though.  I continue to get lulled into a false sense of happy happy joy joy free love and learning, and then get biffed upside the head.

Not everyone you meet online is someone you’d want to sit and have a beer with.  So what?  Just like the offline world, smile, nod, and move on.

Except, online there seem to be a lot more people who don’t want to move along.  You know who I mean, the ones who paint themselves as experts in X, and believe it is their great duty and privilege, perhaps even an obligation, to engage in argument.   It took a bit for me to catch on to how this works for these cyber types.  When I first became engaged with online communities where you saw this type of action, I took the bait.  Argued back to explain my position, and proclaim my rights to my opinion.  Then I learned a bit more about how socializing through a screen works/can work, and would attempt to steer the discussion with a more civil tone.  Yah, done with that, too.

Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology

Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From there you find the people you enjoy spending online time with, and figure out how to narrow your interactions with others while still remaining engaged in the greater community.

Or not.  I no longer visit most of the forums I’ve joined over the years, because I found my “peeps” and we now interact in smaller groups through Facebook, email, sometimes even *gasp* face to face.  Let’s be honest, here, do I need to post questions and have discussions with 8000 other navel gazers?  Thirty, twenty, even ten can be sufficient for a lively debate and interesting discussion.  Every so often someone new gets brought in for fresh air and new perspectives.  Not only does everyone involved not have to agree, it’s a more productive discussion when they don’t.  I learn other people’s opinions, new facts, and my mind gets opened a bit wider.  As long as it’s all conducted with respect and basic courtesy, it’s all good.

Let’s look at that word again.  Respect.  It doesn’t matter if the poster is 14, 40, or 80 (and often you don’t know).  It isn’t my job to slam anyone else in a personal way.  I’m not talking about engaging in debate, but attacks that can/will be interpreted as personal.  You know what I find to be one of the best parts of being a grown up?  Understanding that not everyone will like me, and I won’t like everyone, and that is just fine.  In person or online, still fine.  Remember, I live in a small space.  I can’t fit an entire forum around my dinner table.  My laptop is old and cranky.  A reflection of me, it stops and freezes every time I click on a new post or thread.  It can easily take me 30 minutes to read two short threads, 45 if I want to reply.  In many ways that’s ok, it forces me to choose carefully before clicking.

There are internet trolls who are obvious trolls.  Fine.  Some are annoying, some are amusing.  But the tricky kind are those who don’t seem to understand

English: "Wikipedia troll at play" s...

English: “Wikipedia troll at play” sign, based on a yellow “Children at Play” sign that symbolizes a child kicking a ball. The ball was replaced by a Wikipedia globe, and the child’s head was decorated with unruly “hair” reminiscent of troll dolls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

they’re trolling, and are passionate about their way/belief being THE way.  The ONLY way, for everyone, and they must “correct” any and all who question a different path.  Personally, I’m a silly, flighty gal.  Know what I do when I see a question/thread/post that seems pointless to me?  I don’t click on it.  Forgive me, I’m such a radical.

Mmm hmm.  Would you and your hand like a room, buddy?<< phrased respectfully, of course.


Homestead-Nowhere-Motel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)