Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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A Gentleman Online

Etiquette guides fascinate me, although I pick and choose manners in a way that few cultures ever approve of. Or use them as boxes of spare parts to build interesting new cultures. In general, I find that guides for gentlemen are far more useful than guides for ladies. So here's one for how to be a gentleman online. Most of the advice is quite good.

Certainly the loss of empathy from interacting as anonymous, disembodied selves is a major factor. But the real root of the problem is how we view our time online; many see it as a break from their “real lives”—a place where they can let it all hang out. In their off-line lives they must be civil and refrain from telling their boss how they really feel about him, yelling at the customer service rep who’s giving them the runaround, and getting out of the car and punching the rude and reckless driver in front of them.

Interestingly, I find it far easier to be polite online than in person, because I don't have people right in my face, and I can just ignore them I feel like they're wasting my time. I can be myself online, in ways that are sometimes feasible in person and sometimes not.

As for being rude -- well, sometimes the most honorable thing to do is call a man a coward to his face when that's how he's acting. Be polite, but don't impersonate a doormat. If your honest opinion is rude, lying about it is hardly any nicer than voicing it.

This is simple: if you’re not proud enough of something to have it associated with your real name, then why are you writing it?

Because there are a great many things that need to be said and done, that could get someone fired for saying even outside their job, which is legal but not acceptable.  Online anonymity is a necessary precaution for many people and topics, so ignore this rule.  Just don't use anonymity as an excuse for acting like a jerk.  You are still responsible to yourself even if nobody else knows who you are.

The thing about being a gentleman is this: It doesn't matter what other people think of you.  It matters whether you live up to your own expectations of being a decent, responsible human being.
Tags: community, cyberspace theory, gender studies, networking, reading
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