Friday, October 30, 2009

Decades in, we haven't mastered "netiquette"

The ways we treat each other online are still catching up with the ways we treat each other in real life.

Over on the IndyStar.com, anonymous commenters consistently appall me with their insensitivity, racism, and other forms of general jerkiness.* From deriding a car thief who died in progress to reviling each other as conservatives and/or liberals, haters and fools and boors of all stripes pollute the Indy Star and the rest of the Interwebotron with negativity and vitriol in a way that, one would hope, they would never do in real life.

I guess a comment system that links the user to a profile with some sort of verification (and a picture) would mitigate this to some degree. But that would also drastically reduce comment traffic. (See Also: The Great Indiana Blog Contest Debate, in which the merits of voting anonymously are pitted against the merits of a voter registration system.**)

But I shake my fist at "Kids today!" not just for spewing forth things that we'd never say to each other in person or for running two simultaneously irrelevant blog voting contests.*** For me, it's also about how we make and accept apologies. A couple times in the last week, I've apologized (via Twitter) to people whom I have offended (via Twitter) -- once for holding steadfastly to an opinion, once for stupidly wording something and not realizing what an insensitive jag it made me look like. The details of my offenses (one, not really an offense and the other, an unintentional but real faux pas) are inconsequential, but I'll share them with you if you're curious.

What I'm interested in here and now is that I apologized, using the words, "I seem to have offended you and I apologize" in one case and "You're right; I'm sorry" in the other. But in neither case did the person or persons acknowledge the apology. Which, by the way, is not cool. How hard would it have been for the person to tweet, "Thanks" or "I appreciate it" or whatever?

It just goes to illustrate (for the 4,512,209,115th time in my life) that I am different from other people. I guess people use the Interwebotron for different reasons than I do. In the cases of the Indy Star commenters and the Twitter people I apologized to, I really got the sense that the others were looking to pick a fight, and I'm not really into that.

OK, I'm done for now. This is the part where you rail me with hilariously ironic fight-picking comments in three, two, one...GO!


* "General Jerkiness" was one of the rejected character names for Star Wars Episode -3: No, Really, This All Happened Before All That, a claymation homage to George Lucas now in production at Mom's Basement Studios. Barry Dunman, Blockbuster Clerk and Level 18 Elf Wizard, is directing.

** Also: Vote for my blog -- anonymously! -- here. Click the little teeny word "VOTE" under the number of votes I currently have.

*** But, seriously, vote for my blog.

4 comments:

Esmerelda said...

What makes you think its kids? I sort of feel like kids are the okay ones; it is adults that are the insensitive boors.

Scott S. Semester said...

You're right, and I'm sorry. :)

I meant "Kids today!" less as a threatening and literal, "You kids get off my lawn!" and more as a plaintive and figurative, "Whatever happened to common decency?"

shouldhavezagged said...

Maybe, once you apologized, the offended parties thought the exchange was over. Speaking for myself, I know that I often forget to say "thank you" or "I accept your apology" once someone has said he/she was sorry because the issue is over in my mind and I've already moved on. Then again, I am a right b!tch, so consider the source here.

Re: comments on IndyStar.com, I never look at them for the exact reason you're mentioning. The Huz will talk about things he has read on there and I find the fact that he's reading them as odd as his reading of FoxNews.com or listening to Rush Limbaugh -- even if only for pure entertainment or simple curiosity, why would one want to expose him/herself to such bullsh!t? And now I ask you: WHY?

Scott S. Semester said...

Hahaha, I think there is some sort of sick, masochistic pleasure some derive from watching Fox News or listening to Rush Limbaugh despite vehemently disagreeing. I, too, have been known to listen to Rush for entertainment/opposition research/insights into my father's political beliefs, and I can tell you there is a strange thrill that comes along with listening and disagreeing so hard my blood pressure goes up and I sometimes start to yell.

But that could be just me.