September 30, 2014

How to Not be a Moron on the Online Playground. ~ Nicole Weinberger

social media internet computer


“What a turd.”

“It’s idiots like you that are everything wrong with our country!”

“You’re a self-important narcissist.”

Everyone’s a critic. Simply read through the comment section of articles posted online, and one’s enthusiasm to comment might become dampened by the infantile behavior of adults arguing.

Agree to disagree. Can’t we all get along?

It doesn’t even matter what topic it is; the articles can range from how to do your hair, to what the “me generation” thinks, to a comedy skit review, to the situation with ISIS. It all results in name calling, personal attacks, insults, and vulgar expletives that would make your sweet old Grandmother blush.

Here are some points to think about while engaging in digital media to make it a more cordial playground:

1. Let’s leave out the name-calling.

I mean, we really can’t be sure that person who commented before us is an absolute moron.

Is he really a turd, loser, douche, an idiot, or a total numb-nut? I know it induced great pleasure to bust out as many creative curses as our fingers can possibly type on our Mac, but is it necessary or does it add value to the discussion to resort to degrading someone personally? This behavior wouldn’t happen in a civilized, televised debate without someone getting punched in the nose, unless it was a reality show.

I doubt any of us would behave this way at a dinner party, in a classroom, at work, or while fishing, either. Time to blow the whistle on this playground and stop throwing sand.

2. Would I say that to his face?

Letting out frustrations and personal blows online is the equivalent of giving the finger and a dirty look to another motorist while driving.

You can flick him (or her) off and can safely clear away by hanging a quick right as he makes a left so he can’t kick your ass. Online you can be anonymous and sign out quickly before the previous commenter finds out where you live and tries to blow up your house.

No one knows who you are, and as they say, “The smallest dogs bark the most.” Is it the safety of anonymity that allows us the freedom to vent and insult strangers in such a vicious and childish manner? Let’s bring back manners and politeness even online, I say, and leave out the endless tit-for-tat threads that are bolstered by the safety of our home computers.

3. Why am I so enraged?

It could be the author’s fedora in his profile picture, but I sincerely doubt that’s the trigger. I might be feeling small lately, even unheard. Is it the article that’s making me angry or the state of affairs of my own life? Maybe the job search isn’t going so well, and I’m spending an awful lot of time on the computer.

Am I making this author a representative of all that’s wrong in the world, or does she remind me of my boyfriend’s mother? It’s possible I’m very drunk or stoned and fooling around with my dad’s computer under his profile name for fun. Then again, I might just be psychotic. There’s no reason an opinion from someone I don’t know online should make me that angry, and the opinions out there are just that…opinions, and everyone has one or two.

4. Take nothing personally.

Okay, someone called me an idiot-moron-loser-narcissist turd. Was something done to me? Of course not, as this person doesn’t know me from Adam and my profile picture, and this is a perfect opportunity to take stock of my emotions. I shall watch as the feelings of anger arise and the reaction to it, and my impulsive urge to strike back and to inflict harm. If I’m the watcher of my emotions, I can better control them.

Do we all really want to go on and on, endlessly arguing our point? If so, why?

5. It’s really about the poor ego and a desire for control, that’s probably why.

The ego is addicted to reacting and the need to be right. If someone disagrees or belittles me, I need to feel bigger by stating my case about why I’m absolutely, unequivocally right and everyone else can go pound their pillows.

Ego needs to feel big. If I’m right I feel good, if I’m wrong I feel bad, and when I feel bad, everyone else is a total turd and everything wrong with this country. Don’t get me started.

I think you’ll all agree that a little perspective and good old fashioned manners in our online discourse would be much appreciated to increase our internet viewing pleasure. If you don’t agree, I’ll see you in the comment section, and I’ll be wearing a helmet and knee pads.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Ministerio TIC Colombia  at Flickr 


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