I’ll admit, I’m a nerd. My background is in communications and journalism, after working in a newsroom, it was hard to become a stay-at-home mom. As a result, during my years as a stay at home mom, I spent a lot of time online – reading, writing and communicating. So when I read Jeff Pearlman’s article, “Tracking down my online haters” a few days ago, I went through a series of responses – understanding, surprise and shame.
“It’s about consequences, and not suffering from any,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and founder of etiquetteexpert.com. “There are absolutely no repercussions to writing a nasty comment or e-mail, so people feel they can vent at will. They never think that the person receiving the message might be a real human being.”
It’s the kick-the-dog syndrome. People believe no one’s listening; they think we’re not people, they think there are these giant monoliths controlling thought. Then when they realize someone is listening, they rediscover their manners.
I have to agree with Bryant’s statement. I know when I was at my worst online was when I felt the most powerless in my real life, my babes were little, my house was a wreck and I felt like a failure in multiple areas of my life. I never took the time to really think about how what I wrote would affect the recipient as they read from their screen. I never considered they might have been up all night with a nursing babe, having a rough patch in their marriage or other things not going well in their life. I never paused to think my words might be one more thing on their “crummy day” list. Though it was never my intent, I know that was the end result more than once.