This morning’s Wall Street Journal has an Op Ed piece entitled “Is Internet Civility an Oxymoron?”. My apologies in advance – the website requires you have an account to read the entire piece. But it’s worth picking up a copy or reading it at the library. There is something going on recently on the internet, wherein people’s veneer of civility seems to be wearing away faster than the cheap plating on a plastic charm bracelet. And the anonymity of the internet seems to exacerbate it. I’ve noted some sewing sites have become downright hostile in parts. Adding to the problem is the fact that anyone who tries to point out bad behavior is immediately and loudly shouted down. It’s kind of a pig pile mentality that has been brewing for a while, but seems to have broken out into the open like an ugly boil. I don’t know whether it’s an extension of the whole “us vs them” mentality that has been rampant in politics lately, or if it’s broader and more nefarious than that.
Mind you. I’m not saying I’m perfect. Not by a long shot. I’ve made my own share of stupid, snarky (some might say mean-spirited) remarks in the past, but lately the mob mentality seems to be taking over, and it’s really disheartening. It’s caused me to re-evaluate my opinions of some sites. Not just sewing – if you ever want to see toxic comments, go to Boston.com. Even some of my favorite fashion sites have had bombs lobbed in their comment sections. Yikes!
There’s a saying (attributed here in Boston to the Irish Mafia) that goes, “Never write when you can speak. Never speak when you can nod. Never nod when you can wink.” It’s not a bad approach to commenting on the internet. The first sentence is salient to my point. Think about if you would actually say the words you’re typing if you were face to face with that person. The screen and keyboard act as a barrier, behind which it’s really easy to sling unpleasant remarks with little fear of retribution. Moderation does some good, but not always. In fact, I witnessed a shocking situation recently where a provocative comment on a message board generated even more provocative responses from moderators, supposedly the people who are charged with keeping the board civil. It was truly ugly.
So how to combat this problem? Well, there’s always the Golden Rule. Do unto others on the internet as you would have them do to you. There’s also the “just ignore and step back” approach. That’s my favorite these days. I just would rather not engage in snarky sarcasm or mean debating. Hell, I just finished chemo. I got way more important things to worry about! Like what I’m going to make to go with my Madras Patchwork Skirt. I’m thinking a rayon jersey top from this Extra Wide Rayon Jersey in Coral. I just wish the weather would warm up just a wee bit!
PS – for those who knew her, Shannon Gifford, a lovely lady and a shining light in the sewing community, passed away last night after a long battle with cancer. Please keep her family in your thoughts.