Internet Etiquette: How Not to Be an Asshole Online
What is it with the internet nowadays that makes people feel entitled to share their negative opinions? Is it the screen blocking you from getting your ass beat, or do you feel a sense of entitlement to be a dick? Either way, I find that we are in need of a few guidelines on how to approach commenting on the web without sounding like pretentious pricks.
1. No One Cares if You Think Their Content "Sucks"
"You're ____ sucks," is honestly the most constructive criticism a person could ever come across. I now understand what makes my work suck, is it because I'm not conveying the message or are you just too dense to read the words of an article without getting confused? It's not my problem if you don't like my content, it's being run through the internet for thousands to see. Take a chill pill before hitting enter on that comment next time.
2. Comment on the Content, Whether or Not You Agree or Disagree
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This goes along with the first. If you are going to comment, engage in what you just read/watched/listened to. Telling a writer that an article sucks doesn't get you into a debate on whether what they have written is controversial or not. Content creators are trying to convey a message through their work, and the goal is to have someone retaliate with a message of agreement or disagreement. It seems that too often, internet trolls have moved from trying to get a rise out of people to just being assholes.
3. Bashing a Person's Personality Does Not Give You the One-Up
What does someone's personality have to do with their content? Please, explain to me how you have analyzed my work and come to the conclusion that it is time for me to kill myself. If you have to resort to talking about a content creator as a person, and not what they have made, then take a step back from the computer. You are doing nothing constructive, and you are probably hurting someone for absolutely no reason other than the fact that you didn't like the thing you chose to consume. It's like opening the fridge, picking out a food you don't like, then calling the fridge a useless scumbag who deserves to be set on fire and left for dead.
Talk about why you didn't like it, but in a constructive argument that doesn't necessarily put the person down (or call for their immediate expulsion from the realm of the living). You don't need to be a jerk to someone to get your point across.
4. If You Like to Share Your Thoughts on the Internet, Start Producing Content Yourself
If you are so opinionated, there are jobs that want people like you. You have a voice that is clearly not being heard, try finding an outlet whether it's blogging or something else. Take you anger out on someone who will want to see it, rather than taking it out on a person who is just doing their job or, even worse, trying to enjoy a hobby.
I just can't seem to understand why a person feels the need to be an ass over the internet. This whole idea that we can say whatever we want to whomever we want, is getting a bit out of control. But in the end, all of us who create online content are just going to have to learn to not give a shit.
If you're still not sure if what you're saying is helpful or just a waste of time and energy, Paul Graham wrote a short essay called How to Disagree that looks at various types of internet comments and places them on a hierarchy of least to most valuable.
Photo Credit: Feature Image by Reddit, Someone is Wrong by Kinnon, Creative Critics by Type Pad, How to Disagree Infographic by Craig Ward, Snow White Gif by Giphy, Get a Job by I'm Charming You, Daria Gif by Tumblr