A Little Respect, Please

Or at the very least, a little courtesy.

I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to write this post because it’s a bit of a rant. My frustration lies in the way I see people treating each other online. I’ll use myself as an example, but I’ve witnessed this behavior on blogs, on Facebook, and everywhere else people interact.

I’m not talking about anonymous trolls who bait people for sport. I’m talking about those who call themselves my friends, yet do nothing to earn that title. Their comments are snarky, rude, inconsiderate, and border on plain old mean, yet they seem oblivious to the fact that I’m a person with feelings just like everyone else and their thoughtless words often have a negative effect. (Which is especially ironic since many of these people are writers.) I’ve tried ignoring them, I’ve responded seriously — I’ve even deleted comments — yet nothing seems to get my point across.

Many of my friends would appear to fall into this category (based on Facebook posts alone), but I have a tight group of friends with whom I email, text, chat, talk, etc, on a daily or weekly basis, so while on the surface it may seem like we do nothing but tease each other, in reality we’re very involved in each others lives. The trouble starts when people I don’t know as well see that banter and assume it’s a free-for-all.

Here’s where I’m hoping the people will stop and ask themselves which group they fall into. Do you make the effort to get to know someone before casually flinging insults at them, or do you figure it’s the internet so what difference does it make? Over the past few years I’ve made a real effort to eliminate negativity from my life — including ending friendships — and I’m almost at the point where that needs to happen again.

Before anyone calls me a hypocrite, I’d like to point out that for every silly or smart@ss comment I make, I try to say something genuine and supportive as well. I’ve stopped myself from posting countless times because I know my offhand remark could easily be taken the wrong way, especially if the person is having a rough day. All I’m asking for is the same in return.

Thoughts?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.

35 Comments

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  2. Rhaina

    Agreed.It wasn’t long ago that someone posted something offensive to me in regards to mine and Adam’s relationship. I didn’t appreciate it, even if they thought it was just good fun. Especially since they don’t know me or him in the least. They think because of brief interaction online that they may, but they do not.

    Use the block and ignore button. It’s what I do now. I don’t need or will I tolerate that crap in my life.

    • Rhaina, I have such a hard time understanding people like that. Maybe it’s the way I’m wired, the way I was raised, or I don’t know what, but when I’m angry I back away from everyone. I know you’ve had troubles with this and I’m sorry.

  3. ab

    So sorry that is happening to you. πŸ™
    Delete, block, ignore. Shampoo, rinse, repeat until they are all gone. You don’t need them bringing you down. I just don’t get how some people think they can behave that way because they are on the other side of a computer. I Love you!! Hope that helps a smidge πŸ™‚
    ((hugs))

    • It’s nothing earth shattering, but the fact that I’m wasting energy on people who don’t deserve it frustrates me. I do need to use that trusty ignore feature more often.

      The love always helps sweetums. πŸ™‚

  4. “…so while on the surface it may seem like we do nothing but tease each other, in reality we’re very involved in each others lives. The trouble starts when people I don’t know as well see that banter and assume it’s a free-for-all.”

    Gah, I hope I’m falling into the first half of that, and not the second. :-/

    Adam

  5. kevin krejca

    Couldn’t agree more. Generally I attempt to be as nice as possible to the offending ‘person’ on the first offense. On the second offense I generally am completely blunt that they offended me. Depending on their response or lack there of, i generally delete them at that point but if it happens a third time, they for sure get deleted. If they then continue to harass and ‘bully’, I then block them and report them as a spam account.

  6. Becky

    Very good points. It’s easy to make a quick comment that sounds funny in your head but can be hurtful. The extra second to really think about what you are about to say is worthwhile. It’s easy to think you are close with someone online, when the reality is much different.

    • Excellent point about thinking you know someone. I have several online friends who I consider very close friends, but I still make sure to balance the joking with sincere posts. Why someone who doesn’t know me at all would presume to think it’s okay to push things too far is beyond me.

  7. Allen

    OK, I’m sorry.

    I’ll sit in the corner and pretend to be good, again.

    Sorry this is happening. I find myself often wondering if what we say on the internet might not come across as it is intended. Perhaps we all need to stop and rethink our posts before we hit send.

    • That’s a great article. Thank you for sharing. Reading how journalists have responded to that kind of behavior gives me a few ideas about how I should respond in the future. I’m always so worried about offending other people that I don’t stick up for myself.

  8. That’s awful. I sometimes get insulting comments in different languages, and I have to translate with babelfish. Ask people to insult you in different languages. It takes the sting out of it.

    Seriously – sorry that’s happening. Why are people so goofy? I can’t even read my friend’s blog on the Gosselins because the comments are so vitriolic. They make me uncomfortable.

    • Robin, I adore you. Have I said that in awhile? You’ll have to share your insults in other languages. Or the translations. I’d enjoy that. πŸ˜‰

      Ugh, I couldn’t read that blog either. People can be so nasty.

  9. Hah! I just went and got the link to share that CNN article with you, but Pam beat me to it. πŸ™‚

    If I ever fall into the second group, I expect a “Dude!” and a call-out, ’cause you know, I think the world of you.

  10. I’ve seen so many online posts and conversations go wildly awry, so I try to be extra careful in commenting. Probably why I abuse the emoticons so much. Another reason is that nearly everything you say online sticks around forever, and I don’t want my words giving a bad impression long after I’m gone. πŸ™‚

    • I definitely abuse the emoticons for that same reason. I’d hate for someone to think my joke was badly intended. And excellent point about lasting online forever. That’s why I take SO MUCH CARE with what I say.

      (funny side note: I was going to write ‘mal intended’ but decided that’s not actually a word; rather I’m mixing Spanish and English.)

  11. It’s difficult to know when that line has been crossed, for some. I know you’ve been struggling with people who keep pushing boundaries and I think you’re handling them well. Of course, I’m the girl that recommends burning their #$# on the lawn if they do it again so anything you do seems reasonable.

    <3

    • That line is different for everyone. I try to stay aware of how different people act, and comment accordingly. I’m much more serious with some people than others, and if I don’t think I can contribute to a serious conversation, I don’t comment. Simple enough.

      Your reaction is why I like to keep you around. πŸ˜‰

  12. Carole

    I am with Beth on this. And you too, of course. There are plenty of folks who think I’m a goofball because I use a lot of smileys. The reason I do is to help the other person understand when I am joking.

    That said, there are some folks who absolutely intend for their words to cut or bruise. The Internet has made people who would otherwise not be so bold “10 feet tall and bulletproof.”

    My dad has taught me a lot through my life. But I think the most important thing I learned from him (and continue to learn every day) is that every living creature on Earth, human or otherwise, deserves the same respect that I want for myself. I am no better than anyone else, no matter their situation. Likewise, I am just as deserving of kindness and consideration as everyone else. That’s not just some new-age, peace & love, tree-hugging hippie (thankyouverymuch) mindset. It’s simple common decency.

    I heart you, Hoo. You are good people. Some days, folks are just unkind. Some folks want nothing more than to infect everyone else with their vile mindsets. It’s unfortunate that you’ve been on the receiving end of it.

    • Carole, so much of the way I choose to live my life falls in with what you’ve said here. I put myself in other peoples’ shoes almost to a fault, and don’t understand those who only want to make others feel bad. Just thinking about purposely upsetting someone (especially a stranger or someone I barely know) makes me feel ill.

      I’m glad we’ve stumbled into each other’s lives.

  13. Amy

    Yep, I’m with Carole. I was taught the same way. So many times I write a post and think, “How would somebody that doesn’t know me take this?” I delete a lot of posts that way. If I ever offend, please say so. I’ll want to apologize, and it will teach me a better way to talk to people in the future.

    • I love that all the people I think are wonderful are commenting. You all have nothing to worry about!

      I can’t say I’ve ever deleted posts — usually I stop myself from writing them before I get that far. Maybe we should start a Journals for Angry People Fund.

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