Tattered Rag Magazine

July 12, 2015

How To: Conduct Your Online Composure Well

Since the world has predominately gone to the robots, the digital side, a numerically-coded form of hell, the state of our social interactions has shifted. Shifted forward, yes, I guess in some regard as it pertains to certain avenues of progress, but simultaneously our culture has also shifted into reverse as it pertains to our use of human wit and intellect. Nowadays, anyone can meet and get to know anyone without having met them in tangible proximity first. Everyone has access to a myriad of resources for researching anything and anyone they so desire. And yet, many times, it still seems as if the majourity of the human population has lost it’s ability to function intelligently in social interactive scenarios, both on the interweb and on the streets.

First of all, I will say that technology is an excellent tool, however concomitantly, the use of computerized devices and social media, should not be treated as oxygen tanks or pacemakers. They are our assistants. They assist us. They are not the boss. We are.

With technology comes a power of responsibility; a choice between good and evil. While our “smart” devices have proved to be very efficient and creative in many ways, they are still only susceptible to our behaviours and how we choose to use them. And by the way, computers are actually “dumb” little devices. Look it up in, say, the Oxford English Dictionary (oed.com, definition 7c). Whoever the hell’s brilliant idea it was to brand them as being “smart” is just plain ignorant. Just because these mechanical contrivances are programmable doesn’t make them smarter. They are no more intelligent than the genius brains (the original super computers) that write their code and program them. They only seem smarter to the ordinary, average-IQed brains that aren’t always fluent in the language of computer code.

Therefore, we can not place the entire blame on technology for how we (the brains behind the screens) conduct ourselves in our social media interactive scenarios and when browsing the interweb. Our profiles and browser histories are just extensions of ourselves in another societal realm and should therefore reflect an attitude of respect and courtesy for the people in our proximity. Treat others the same way we would, if those same people were standing directly in front of us or passing us on the street. Like the old saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all.”

While it is true that actions do speak louder than words, it is equally true that words are indeed weapons. Remember, the infamous phrase authored by Edward Bulwar-Lytton, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Or in this case “The keystroke is mightier than the sword.” How you wield that lexical sword can both murder or protect anothers’ soul. When we pick up a pen, pencil, crayon, marker, stone, stick, paintbrush, piece of coal or any other instrument that can etch letters onto some surface, we are picking up power and caressing it between our fingers. Playing with the power of words can be a lot of fun, but they also come with a warning label. And in the words of Clark Kent, authored by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, “With great power comes great responsibilty.”

Here are a few general tips and manners to think about and consider whenever you’re composing a message or post on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, MySpace, Youtube, Wordpress or whatever other social media site you use.
  • Don’t say something in type you wouldn’t say to someone’s physical face.
  • If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. (We all should know this by now)
  • Know your grammar! This includes the grammar of slang. (Yes, even slang is still accountable to certain grammatical guidelines.) Punctuation is pivotal!
  • Silence is the best defense against words. Silence is the pen’s mortal enemy.
  • Don’t hide behind the screen with a “What happens online, stays online” type of mentality. This isn’t Vegas.
  • Remember that some things don’t always translate the same way in text as they do in verbal speech. When you’re communicating through written words, you have to explain your actions in words as well. Make sure the correct tone of voice is being communicated to the reader also. [Ex. stop. VS. STOP!!!!!]
  • Try and be a little less liberal with the use of lol’s and other overused acrostics. Reserve it for when you are truly guffawing or “laughing out loud” about something. If an outsider were to visit our planet and their only prior knowledge of us was from our social media accounts and texts, then they’d be sorely disappointed to find us a lot less euphoric.

Balance and respect are the cornerstones of life and when they are disrupted that is when life becomes messy & screwy.