On Growing a Thick Skin and Other Early Lessons

After you have been blogging for awhile, or spent a good bit of time online sharing oneself, you grow a thicker skin than less internet savvy humans. You still get annoyed, angry, and occasionally flame inducing, but the internet teaches you fast that there are a lot of people willing to be ugly to you online. People willing to think and say the worst of you. There will always be those people. In real life, they exist too, but they are usually less vocal or in your face.

Mr. Rochester recently got a lesson in this, not that he is unaware that people are ridiculous regarding things you write online, but he has not, until recently, expressed himself online. Being an internet junkie who lived online was previously my job in this family.

Mr. R’s recent experience (and do not go looking for it online because it happened through a family grapevine with old fashioned telephones, no less) reminded me of something that us old hats sometimes forget.

There are still a large number of people for whom this internet, blogging, social networking, information sharing world is new and foreign. New in the way that they may have heard of it (crap, even my Grammy knows what MySpace is and she can not even type) but they have no idea how to deal with it.

With that in mind, here are some things we should remember ourselves and take time to share, politely, with people for whom living on the internet is still new.

If you have something to say, say it to my face… online. Conversations in which you take umbrage with something behind closed doors is rude. Unless of course, you are going to be very rude and start a flame war (A conversation in which you are hateful to the person, not the idea. Frequently invokes Nazi’s, see Goodwin’s Law) In that case, please take it outside so that no one else has to read your drivel.

Online, people often feel free to be bluntly honest.
If you have trouble with blunt honesty please go play in someone else’s internet. You know, the one with only unicorns, bunnies, and rainbows.

Sarcasm and satire can come off badly online and in writing. If you read something you find offensive. Step back and ask, “Might this be sarcasm or satire? Perchance this person is not actually suggesting we eat babies.”

You may find my willingness to share the details of my life online to be crude and dangerous, but that is my choice. You may wish not to share so much when you venture online and that is your choice. We all have different limits and as long as we are all consenting adults in squandering our privacy, so be it.

We internet authors are not Brontes, Faulkners, Ffordes, Irivings, or Austens. Our turn of phrases are not as well crafted at times (most of it) and it is possible we may use a word with slightly the wrong connotation. Give that person the benefit of the doubt, but be sure to ask them about it to clarify if you have a problem. See first lesson.

–Jane, wishes all lessons were as easy to share as this