People Online are Still People

I want to talk about two things before I get into the main topic. First, I started printing the new keyboard body again, and it looks like that’s going to take a while. The bottom parts are 10 hours each, and I was 8 hours into the bottom left section when it peeled up off the glass and tried to eat my printer. The printer is fine, but I had to pitch that and start it again. More glue should do. I hope.

The second thing is that I mentioned a different topic, which is a consolidation and possible addition to my writing posts. I was going to maybe do that tonight, but that’s going to take a bit more work than I have time for. It might be best if I do that post on Friday or Saturday. I decided for tonight I’d go with a simpler topic for me to talk about.

And, I don’t know if I’ve talked about this before or not. It seems like the kind of thing I would write an essay on, but there are a lot of posts here. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and even accounting for the breaks, there is still a lot here. So if I’m repeating myself, I apologize. However, even if I am repeating myself, this is worth saying again.

The people you communicate with are just as human you are whether or not you can see them. They have feelings, just like you do. They deserve as much respect as you do. They are people.

There are individuals that don’t care and will happily try to ruin someone else’s day for fun. Those people are assholes, and I don’t think they read my blog anyway, so I’m not going to try talking to them. Those are the people you should block on social media and ignore whenever possible, online or offline.

Some folks just forget that there are people on the other side of the screen, so they behave differently than they would if they were face-to-face. You see this a lot in online video games, actually. Frustrations rise, and suddenly your sweetest friend is yelling at a stranger online for not playing the game well enough. When I was younger, I definitely said some things to people I shouldn’t have. I think it’s probably happened to all of us.

Games are one thing. Social media is another. It’s weird seeing people be so nasty to each other online when it is so needless. Just block and move on. There are so many people I disagree with on Twitter, but I don’t spend my time responding to them, trying to correct them. If I can do so gently and in a way that isn’t going to create additional drama and conflict, I might say something. But usually I just move on and let people be wrong. If they’re particularly offensive, I block and move on. It is exceedingly rare to change someone’s mind online with a Tweet or a Facebook post or an Instagram comment, or whatever.

I feel like I should give an example of this. How about J.K. Rowling? She’s completely wrong about transgender people and feminism. She has doubled down on this multiple times. Her stance is hurtful to people that already have a hard time. There is nothing I can say or do that will change her mind. So I have her blocked and I don’t engage. If everyone that disagreed with her just blocked her, she wouldn’t have much of a platform anymore.

That’s an extreme example. A milder one… I saw someone online say that Ultraviolet is a good movie. First, I was shocked someone could hold such an opinion in their mind, as I believe Ultraviolet is one of the worst movies to ever come out on my birthday, or maybe ever. But, as wrong as that person’s opinion is about a truly terrible movie, I didn’t try to correct them. I didn’t block them or mute them, either. They’re not actually hurting anyone with their ridiculous opinion.

I think the last thing I’ll say on this subject is that supporting people online goes a long way. Further than you may ever know. Toxic positivity is a thing, so it’s important to avoid rolling in with all sunshine and rainbows all the time. If you stop and listen to a person, you should be able to tell what kind of support they need. Imagine how you would want to be treated in their situation and be the change you want to see in the world. But continue to listen and don’t take it personally if your well-intended words do not have the effect you were hoping for. Words are hard and confusing, and tone is often lost when it’s text alone. If you’re supporting someone, you are not owed any reward or attention for your support.

In summary:

  • Remember that the people you interact with on The Internet are people just like you, deserving of respect and consideration
  • Do not seek conflict and try to correct people online unnecessarily. If they’re particularly offensive damaging, report them when appropriate, and block them and move on
  • Support people online. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

Why did I feel the need to write this tonight? I’m not sure. I write things like this knowing it won’t have much reach, and the only people that will see these words probably don’t need this message. But writing this is more hopeful than not writing anything. If everyone followed this advice, The Internet would truly live up to its enormous potential.