I was in the middle of writing a post for today when I logged onto google reader and learned about the newest firestorm hitting the YA blogosphere. My post wasn't really working out, and I do have some feelings about this, so we're switching tracks.
The scenario is a familiar one. A magazine made some unwise decisions. The news spread all over twitter, response posts went up all over the web, and the magazine was inundated with angry comments. Now, the situation isn't quite black and white. It's a magazine, not an individual or private citizen, so presumably it’s more open to debate and controversy. Also, many of the responses have been professional, respectful and well thought out.
On the other hand, many responses were not.
And as I scrolled through the responses, I couldn't help but think, “Dear God. I hope I never piss off the Internet.”
Social media is a powerful thing. I like to think of Twitter as word-of-mouth on crack. Usually great for getting news out, but it also means that when stuff hits the fan, it really hits the fan. If you say a stupid thing in real life, a few people get mad at you. But if you do it online, the entire world knows and is all too eager to tell you so with the click of an anonymous mouse button.
So I’ve been thinking about my own conduct online. What do I do when I see something that I vehemently disagree with? I do have a pet peeve when it comes to bad neuroscience. Not the occasional misconception, but the really soul crushingly bad stuff – usually spoken with authority -- that makes me wonder whether we're talking about the same species. These are the times when I'm really tempted to post a link telling people how stupid it is, and sometimes I've succumbed to that temptation.
After some thought, I’ve decided on these rules for myself:
1. If I see something blatantly wrong or offensive, I will respond in the comments section of that post or website.
2. If I feel the need to elaborate, I may blog or tweet about the subject, but without names and without links. This way, people who already know what I’m talking about will understand, but I won't be bringing new people into the fray.
Those are just my thoughts for now, and my opinion may change. I also don't mean to single out people who have given opinions in this particular instance. Like I said, many of the responses were professional and well thought out. These are just things I've been thinking about with every new Internet blow up.
What say you, dear readers? Do you have an internet code of conduct?
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