I'm a lurker.
I read a good amount of blogs and forum threads every morning but I don't often leave comments. This is mostly because I'm sort of shy. It took me over a year to post on a popular writing forum, even though I spent over an hour perusing its threads each day. And when I finally did leave a comment, I got nervous. What if someone disagreed with me? What if someone picked a fight?
See? This is why I lurk. I'm loco in the cabeza. (<-- Aren't you amazed by my Spanish?!)
Anyway, last night, I was reading a thread---one of my favorites actually---and I noticed a few of the people were trash-talking another writer. Who are they talking about? I was curious so I backtracked through the thread, figuring they were discussing an idiot writer who had done something incredibly offensive.
Well, I was surprised. Really surprised. They were talking about one of my favorite bloggers! A blogger who I admire and respect. I couldn't help but think about this blogger stumbling onto this thread---a very open, very public thread---and getting terribly hurt by the comments.
The internet can be a very small place.
I've heard this warning over and over again as I've gotten more involved online. But it didn't really hit home until last night.
A few thoughts:
1. Be careful what you post online. Especially in public forums. You really don't know who's reading it.
2. Sometimes, we need to get something off our chest. That's fine. But why not do that in an email?
4. Before you post anything, stop for a second. Ask yourself: will I regret this later? And: will I be embarrassed if the person I'm talking about reads my comment?
Of course, there have been things I've posted online that I've come to regret later. (ie, photos of me in a bathing suit) I'm certainly no saint! But it's safe to say that I'll be super careful when I post comments online in the future.
Or maybe I'll just lurk.