The trouble with online conversations
Real life conversations are always good. Always. By conversing with others you learn new things, clarify your own thoughts and have the chance to share what you believe too.
It’s usually a win/win situation. As long as you are happy to listen to others’ opinions and conduct yourself with respect, it’s all good. You both walk away with a new perspective and go on with your lives with new musings to ponder.
But when it comes to online conversations things aren’t always so clear cut. In some cases it seems it’s more of a free-for-all rather than true two-way communication.
I’ve seen countless posts, articles and status updates online attract so much vitriol which I’m sure would not be directed at the author in real life. In fact I’ve stopped reading the comments on major news and magazine blogging sites just because they are often filled with so much hate and disrespect towards the author and towards other commenters. It’s really very unnecessary.
I suspect a lot of this is due to the written word being stark on the page. Words in print lack the meaning of words accompanied by the nuance of body language, gestures, tone or facial expression. It’s easier to misinterpret the tone of what is written compared to what is voiced verbally.
Recently there have been a couple of questions posed by respected bloggers that attracted controversy. They did not attract horrible comments – everyone was very respectful – but there was some outcry at why the questions were asked in the first place. There was misinterpretation and lack of understanding.
It’s all well and good to ask a question online and so easy to fire back a reply from behind the comfort of your screen. But do you really understand the question being asked? Do you really know where the person asking it is coming from? Do you stop to think a moment before you respond?
I tend to steer away from controversy as I don’t like ruffling feathers or being called out on what I say. I am careful in what I put online for this very reason – I want to be happy with my words. I want to be proud of owning them. I would also hate for people to misinterpret what I say and feel upset because of my inability to express where I am coming from.
Yes, I don’t always have the most exciting blog or social media pages as a result, but I’m happy and comfortable and content.
Thankfully there are wonderful people out there who do have the guts to go out on a limb and have those conversations. I’m in awe of them. Please, keep on having them for those of us who can’t.
As for the trouble with online conversations, I don’t have an answer. Short of thinking twice before you post a question or status and taking a moment to breathe and centre yourself before replying to anything online.
Remember – the internet IS forever.
Sharing my confused ramblings with the gang for #IBOT.
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