October 13, 2011

The Internet Can Be Very Small

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.


  1. 4. Before you post anything, stop for a second. Ask yourself...will I be embarrassed if the person I'm talking about reads my comment?

    I think this is good advice for life in general. You don't go around shouting your thoughts to anyone and everyone through a megaphone. And if you post publicly online, that's essentially what you are doing. Anyone can hear it.

    As you mentioned, some things are best said in private (email) to a select group (friends, family). In public, healthy debate is one thing, but hurtful conversation is another. And if you think things will get awkward if the subject of your comments were to read them, maybe you should just bite your tongue. (Personally, this is how I choose to approach things online).

    Wow, that was long winded. Perhaps I just should have let Thumper explain things.

  2. I tend to be a lurker like you. I rarely comment in forums, though I do comment on blogs.

    The internet is a small place, and more than once I've been glad I never posted something I wrote and then changed my mind on. That said, I really try to look at the positive and give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people aren't out there trying to hurt others feelings or be rude. But alas, you can't always please everyone.

  3. Erin, that video of Thumper is so adorable! I want to squeeze all of his little rabbit siblings.

    I think we have really similar approaches about this topic! I try to bite my tongue too. Admittedly, this is mostly because I can get really heated about certain things and it's best if I cool off before commenting. I don't want anything I say in the heat of the moment to be cemented on the internet for all eternity!

    Janet, I totally agree! I don't think those writers meant to be purposefully hurtful but their words could be construed as such--which is one of the biggest issues with communicating online. You never know how your words can come across!

    By the way, I hope we can have a chance to chat at the SCBWI conference in a couple weeks! Yay! I'll be passing out lunch boxes so hopefully I won't be too hard to spot!

  4. Oh, I totally lurk. *creepy eyes* Or at least, that's my preferred mode...and for just the reasons you mentioned. Once your words are out there, they're impossible to get back. My mother's words are now mine - if you can't say anything nice... :)

  5. Oh, good gracious! It's hard to believe that there are people out there who haven't yet learned what my mother started teaching me from day one: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    Of course, if you've got a legitimate gripe with someone, you should take it up with them in a professional, private manner. I think people who air their dirty laundry and opinions of others online end up looking much worse than the people they're speaking badly about.

    Anywho, that's my take on the matter. Wise advice as always, Caroline. :)

  6. Some people do seem to forget that whenever you post something online it's there for the world to see!

  7. I'm with Erin and Thumper's mom. "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." :)