As indie authors, we're all used to dealing with people online, whether or not we've ever met our correspondents in real life. With the digital environment at our disposal, there's never been a better time to be a writer, but now and again, we fall prey to its negative side, receiving unhelpful snap judgments, tersely phrased, in comments on our posts.
We all know it's far too easy to make false assumptions about someone based on a quick glance at their photo and comment in isolation. This is one reason that spammy Twitter accounts are so often accompanied by alluring pictures of conspicuously respectable/lovable/sexy/muscular types, depending on the audience that the spammer is trying to reach!
If we really want to get to know online “friends” better, we need to take the time to inspect their bios, timelines, websites etc – that's why social media companies provide the facility to include them, to enhance the quality of our online exchanges with each other. (And if you know that you've left any of yours blank, go fix them!)
As a case in point, Australian author Jessica Bell makes a plea to guard against hasty judgments, based on her own experience.
I have experienced my fair share of online abuse over the last five years. I’m opinionated and not afraid to speak my mind. This has, on occasion, caused some heavy tension in some of my social media threads.
But people who disagree with me are the least of my worries. Everyone is allowed a voice and an opinion. What really bothers me is the automatic assumption that I’m a novice, which more often than not results in me being patronized by someone who I don’t know from a bar of soap.
Sorry, but I’m not a little girl who needs educating.
This usually happens with new followers because they haven’t actually taken the time to see who I am. Perhaps they just followed me so I would follow back. Fine. You can do that. But if you do that, keep your judgments and assumptions to yourself, please.
The last thing I want to do is to throw my resumé in the virtual face of every person who treats me this way. Not only is it time consuming, but it’s also rather arrogant. I don’t want to be that kind of person.
So, I think it might be in everyone’s best interests if I write a letter to Judger that can be applied in a general capacity. Here goes …
When you friend/follow someone online, it is strongly suggested that you do and think about the following before interacting with them:
- Don’t just look at their profile picture and assume you know what kind of person they are.
- Don’t assume after reading just one status update that you are clued into their personality.
- If you see a typo in a status update, and said person is supposed to be an author/editor/publisher, don’t assume that they are a phony. They may have been typing quickly from their phone. Big deal.
- If you read some factual information that you believe is wrong, it doesn’t mean it’s actually wrong. Check the person’s bio. You might be surprised to know that what they’re talking about stems from years of experience and expertise. And also, sometimes there is more than one way to do things, no?
- If they use swear words a lot, or tell a lot of dirty jokes that you find offensive, it doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Nor does it mean that you are entitled to tell them how they should speak and behave online. If you don’t like the way a person speaks, that’s your problem, not theirs. No one is forcing you to be friends with them.
- Be polite. Not everyone airs every single aspect of their life on social media. Someone might be having a particularly bad day, or suffering from depression. Your rudeness will escalate that and make them feel even worse. Not nice.
- Sometimes people speak differently online than they do in person. Don’t judge a person’s personality solely on their Netspeak.
- You think the use of emoticons and stickers make them seem childish. Well, you’re childish for assuming that a person who uses emoticons and stickers is childish. Just like in real life, people have different ways of communicating. Can you imagine a face-to-face world without smiles and winks and laughs? Constant blank-faced communication? I can’t.
- So you don’t like posts about religion, sex, war, animal abuse, or politics? Not a problem. But how about, instead of verbally abusing the people who post about these topics, you just don’t read them. Simple.
- You read a post that voices an opinion on a topic you are passionate about and want to engage in the conversation. Go for it! But engage in the conversation. Not in fleeting judgments about the person who posted it for having an opinion that is different than yours.
I’m sure there are many other tips I could give you, dear Judger, but let me end this letter with one more, very important thing …
Karma, my friend.
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What would you say to your online judgers? What are your top tips for dealing with them?Why #authors need to get to know each other better online by @MsBessieBell Click To Tweet