Specifically, to steal from Seth Godin, in an entry he titled “Who you are and what you do”:
The neat thing about the online world is that you are judged almost entirely by your actions.
If you do generous things, people think you are a generous person. If you bully people, people assume you are a bully. If you ask dumb questions, people figure you’re dumb. Answer questions well and people assume you’re smart and generous. You get the idea.
This leads to a few interesting insights.
- If people criticize you, they are actually criticizing your behavior, not you.
- If you’re not happy with the perception you generate, change the words you type and the messages you send.
- When you hear from someone, consider the source. Trolls are almost trolls through and through, which means you have no obligation to listen, to respond or to placate. On the other hand, if you can find a germ of truth, it can’t hurt to consider it.
The biggest takeaway for me is this: online interactions are largely expected to be intentional. On purpose. Planned. People assume you did stuff for a reason.
Be clear, be generous, be kind. Can’t hurt.
I think Godin’s pinging off the same thing I was thinking of on January 1st when I spent a paragraph describing why I wanted to “disconnect” from some people who were being bitter or easily offended or took pleasure in kicking over other people’s sandcastles. It’s just that Godin captured it in one six-word sentence. A positive, not a negative; not what you want less of, but what you want more of. Be clear, be generous, be kind.