Stuff that is poisoning the Internet

We know you’re overworked and underpaid.

You’re multitasking at every turn.

You have a fairly decent job, but you have to handle a ton of disruptive stuff.

You know:

– Someone hollers they need some info/help

– Projects are behind because “they” haven’t responded

Facebook pages need some written, photo updates

– Twits are spraying across your screens (computer, tablet, phone)

– Emails keep stacking up in your inbox

– There are forums you need to follow to stay current

Then there’s an opportunity to write really good stuff, highlight your brilliance, make your target wither to a quivering mass of Jello.

Ah, the power of words … you hit the Enter key.

As your masterpiece flies to sites, screens and big databases around the globe; you read it again.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Internet was like live radio, TV?

You know, with a 10-second delay.

Write, Delete – It’s human to want to express your frustration, irritation when you’ve been wronged and want to punish someone. Write it, get it out of your system, hit Delete, start over and you have a second chance to address the issues professionally, rather than personally.

Escape and Delete keys would really get a workout!

It would beat the heck outta’ “I would like to recall that note about your questionable parentage.”

Vint Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, didn’t foresee that people would actually be living on the web.

But he did see dangerous trends emerging, “I predict that by 2010, 100 per cent of network traffic will be packetized. None of it will be voice because we will be too mad at each other from sending flame e-mails.”

The Internet and the Web are global forums, and people have different views that can/should be heard.

We’re O.K. with criticism. We’re fine with disagreement. But it’s disheartening how hostile “ordinary” people are to each other online.The kneejerk “everyone else is an idiot” approach is poisoning the Internet.

Back when Vint and the rest were working on their dream of a global village, they had this great idea that people could work out their differences.

They thought direct communications would make us realize we have a lot in common no matter where we live or what our beliefs.Instead, it has enabled us to find new ways to attack, to embarass.We’ve become desensitized.

The old adage, “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, became…old.

There are a few ways to handle the haters and not become one yourself.

Don’t give the hater public attention/validation, don’t follow him/her, don’t link to them, don’t help them.

Respond in a calm, professional manner without stooping to their level as though the world was watching…they are.

Then filter them out and continue your quest. You can go on with your life and be satisfied that you kept your company’s and your reputation intact.

Few of us have the gift for words that Winston Churchill possessed, but that has certainly never stopped people from trying to outdo him. He complimented Clement Atlee without resorting to much of today’s web writing, “A modest man, who has much to be modest about.”

Winston Churchill, a person who really knew how to use words, understood the Internet before the Internet was even developed, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Don’t take comfort in the fact that you’re anonymous on the Internet so you can say anything you want.

Hostility doesn’t replace meaningful conversations; online communications can’t replace in-person relationships because body language and voice tone don’t travel well on the Net.

Or as Eric Schmidt, Google chairman, said, “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.”

Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz said: There’s an elegance about good writing, even when you don’t agree with what was written. Focusing on the issues, instead of the person, is more logical; but today, the buffer of the Internet makes it way too easy to lose sight of the fact that there is a live individual on the receiving end instead of a target.

When you’re contributing online, keep a few points in mind:

· Tone Down Your Language — Written text can easily be misinterpreted. Avoid the use of strong or offensive language and the excessive use of exclamation points. If you feel strongly about a point, write it as a draft, review it, remove the strong language, think, post

· Keep a Straight Face – Humor, sarcasm are tough without facial, voice tone clues

· Be Forgiving – Deal with issues privately and offline if possible. It may have been unintended, so give the writer a chance to modify, delete or leave on their own

· Test for Clarity – It may be perfectly clear to you when you write the message, but read it aloud to see if it flows smoothly. If it’s something that might affect/reflect on your business, have someone else review it before setting it free


This is regarded as shouting.

· Consider the Privacy of Others’ — Ask for permission if you want to forward someone’s content to others to avoid inadvertently distributing personal or company private information.

· Be Brief – Be as concise as possible when contributing. Your points may be missed if hidden in a flood of text

· Stick to the Point — Don’t waste others’ time by going off on irrelevant tangents

Words well-crafted into sentences, paragraphs and blogs/columns/postings can illuminate people’s understanding/awareness around the globe. Lobbed at people, they can also do serious harm. Choose your words carefully, use them wisely.

· Err on the Kindness Side – They may look like nothing but a string of words to you but if you’re reading a post, remember it comes from a human being. If you feel it is your “responsibility” to correct the correspondent, do it in a calm, professionsl manner. Stay away from controversial topics like politics, religion, race, sex, etc. Most cyber flare-ups occur because of these discussions. Be especially careful when dealing with people from other cultures and countries online. Be polite and respectful and don’t be afraid to ask how they do things where they live. It’s a great way to learn. When you hurt someone’s feelings or they feel you belittled them, apologize. It doesn’t hurt…honest.

· Don’t Write When Angry – If you’re writing an email, Twit or IM when you’re angry, review it carefully, put it aside for awhile and delete it. Then start over. It will be better, you’ll feel better, the online world will be better.

· Think Before You Hit the Send Button – Think carefully about the content of your message before contributing it. Once sent to the group, there’s no taking it back. Consider that grammar and spelling errors also reflect on you; and once it’s sent, there are no take-backs. Everyone can see it – friends, family, bosses, prospective bosses.

While there are a number of studies that say YouTube is becoming the people’s source of getting news, there is still a lot of strength in the written word; and that probably won’t change in the near future.

There are lots of examples where people have embellished their education and experience, and it has come back to haunt them.

Today’s business recruiters often “Google” a candidate and old messages from their youth have cost them a great new position. Check yourself out from time to time just to ensure nothing is out there that is too personal that will embarrass you or have people question your professionalism, ethics.

Written words may again become so powerful, so valuable we’ll hear Carnegie say, “If the words are from the book, it’s happened before and it’ll happen again. All we need is that book.”

O.K., maybe your words or our words will never be that important; but then, you also won’t get in the middle of a gun fight with Carnegie’s men.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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