Thursday, January 12, 2012

Be Nice On The Internet Week

Okay, I know that the title of this post sounds like a brilliant and original idea, and it is, but I have to admit that it's not my brilliant and original idea.  Be Nice On The Internet Week is an initiative of Real Simple, the magazine I read when I want to pretend I'm a grown-up, and it's really a breath of fresh air.

They've got details of the program on their website and on Facebook and are facilitating discussion all over the interwebs about how we can each be nicer online, but the concept is easy:


We all, at times, get sucked into the maelstrom of negativity that lurks around every corner online.  (Whoa, hey there, mixed metaphors!)  It can be deceptively simple to say something disparaging while hiding behind the relative anonymity of our screens.  And we each have typed - and sent - messages that we would never have thought appropriate to voice out loud.

And at the same time, we've all been victim of cruelty online, so we all know how it feels; how opening an angry email can sting more than being told off in person, how seeing a defaced picture on a website can burn more than a drunken insult hurled across a bar, and how reading a malicious comment left on a blog post can be harder to dismiss than an offhand comment made in the heat of the moment.

There's a line in The Social Network, the movie about the founding of Facebook, that has stuck with me since I saw the film: Mark Zuckerburg's spurned ex-girlfriend says

The internet is not written in pencil, Mark, it's written in ink.

I think that it's worth being reminded of this from time to time, and that we can all be encouraged to be a little bit nicer on the internet.

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