My Soapbox

Here I go again ... Yes, Virginia, it is the Internet that is ruining the civility of our discourse. Ask you mother.

About once a year I climb up on this soapbox. I honestly can't help myself. I just get so fed up sometimes with the ugliness of our current mode of communication. Yes, I mean the Internet. Remember when your mother said: If you can't say anything nice ... ?

Apparently the advent of the Internet erased this saying from our brains and our hearts.

Or how about this one: Don't say anything you wouldn't say to someone's face.

I know what you're thinking. I would. I would say it to his/her face. The truth is, no, you wouldn't. The ugly things people post on the Internet in blogs or say in e-mails are not things decent people would say to anyone's face. They wouldn't have the guts. People hide behind a thin veil of anonymity and power that the Web offers in order to vent their own personal issues. The bottom line is that profound anger and nothing else prompts this type of behavior. Instead of venting with your fingers why not explore what may be going on in your own life that has brought you to this angry place?

I have spoken to rooms packed with hundreds of people on many occasions. I've given them microphones and told them they could ask me anything. Not once has anyone ever asked me a rude or inappropriate question or made an unkind comment. Why? Surely not because they all like me? That would be arrogant and downright impossible to imagine, but because people don't want to be rude in public for fear of what others might think of them.

So here's an idea the next time you get the urge to attack someone online. Write it. Get it out. Then hit "delete" instead of "send" or "post." I promise you will feel better for having handled it this way. Just ask you mother. I did ...


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