Note to humanity: cyberspace isn’t your own personal diary. Nor is it supposed to be like Regina George’s Burn Book. Forgive the Mean Girls Reference. It’s apt, though, isn’t it?
After the last number of weeks and being hit with a number of attacks, as well as seeing a number of my friends suffering with them as well, I need to break my silence. The unsettling part is the vast majority of the attacks and insults didn’t come from idiots and trolls floating around on the internet. They came from career driven people in esteemed industries, hence prompting this article. Even the most quaffed and distinguished of people seem to be forgetting their P’s and Q’s on the internet.
So hence forth here are my ten rules for internet behavior:
1) Gossip is never the way to make anyone’s heart grow fonder of you… that is, unless they like to gossip, too. Then it’s entirely possible they will gossip about you to everyone else they know as well and behind your back.
2) If you don’t want people remembering it at your funeral, then it’s best not to say or post whatever you’re thinking of. We as humans have a tendency to focus on the negative. If you say something that sticks, it will rattle around in people’s brains forever.
3) If word of your choice verbiage or behavior gets back to your peers, will it damage your career? If so, then why do it? Learn to hold your tongue. Unless you intend to commit career suicide, just don’t.
4) If a nasty comment or post is aimed at someone you work with or you consider a colleague, perhaps remember that your words could backfire completely. For example, if that person has been helping to promote you as a freelancer, if you offend them their promotion of your business will immeditately stop.
5) If you express sexual interest in a person and it is not returned (or if, gasp, they’re already married and you knew that fact to begin with), move on. Go hit a punching bag in the quiet of your home or in the gym corner over your rejection. Don’t post it on social media or lash out. All it does is make you look bad. Sad. Pathetic even.
6) If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. That’s just common sense.Tweet
7) When it comes to politics or religious beliefs, it’s a free country. Unless someone’s beliefs are harmful on some level to someone else or are attacking people in general, think twice before commenting. Think it over a third time if you decide to respond, remembering Mark Twain’s phrase, “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
8) If someone makes an achievement that makes you jealous, refusing to congratulate them only makes you look bad. No one else. Likewise, if they’re asking for support and you won’t give it because of said jealousy, perhaps think of the next time you need a favor. They’ll be far less likely to assist you in return. For example, the LIKE button on Facebook or elsewhere is not your own personal passive-aggressive tool to express your feelings. At minimum, what harm does liking something do? The answer is simple. Nothing, unless you’re letting your own ego get in the way.
Example: If they’re in need of a vote for a contest or are trying to get a petition to go viral and ask you to share it, who the hell does it hurt by sharing? If you don’t just because of your own begrudging envy, again, in future, you may need that friend’s help. You may not get it.
9) If it includes profuse four letter words, labeling, or name calling of any kind, the onus is on you for outing your own stupidity. The people who support you for it have just outed their own personal desire to revel in strife and/or their own idiocy. It never ends well for anyone’s reputation.
10) And finally, getting behind a computer, phone, or tablet does not give you the right to do anything. As a wise woman once told me, “Getting behind the wheel of a car does not give you permission to commence in road rage behavior.” While you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should.
Basically summed up, if something quacks like a duck, usually it is. If someone puts something stupid on social media, it only reflects on their own mindset. Don’t stoop to their level. Think of the quote by Mark Twain above and rise above it. Rise above them. If half the politicians in the world actually lived by these rules online or in the real world, they’d spend far more time doing the jobs they swore to do.
We aren’t in Kindergarten anymore. Behave like you aren’t. You’ll rise above sixty percent of the internet’s drivel.
Another of my favorite quotes about people to remember: “Always separate the trash from the recycling .”Peg Heron Heidel
– Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel 2020
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