Can you truly be yourself in an online community? Really?
I find it’s my assumption that most people are like me that gets me into trouble. I assume they know what I mean, we’re on the same page, so to speak. What I might consider harmless fun or discussion may extremely offend someone else. The message that was truly intended is forever lost if the perception is wrong. Be careful of the words you use, especially if you’re giving a different opinion than others. It’s very easy to be misinterpreted. To disagree on a forum is interpreted as arguing or putting another down. You’ll find many who don’t want to hear a different view.
You can’t expect anyone to be able to ‘read between the lines’ if they can’t see the twinkle in your eye. Your words are taken literally. Smilies have become even more important to show the reader our mood so we will be forgiven for any offense we make.
Posting a message in the emotion of the moment should be avoided, because invariably, emotion means you are being yourself, and someone is going to misinterpret it. You may flare up and burn out immediately. You’re over it, and in real life, face-to-face, it would pass quickly for all parties. Online it can’t, because there is no way to satisfactorily explain what was meant.
Perception becomes reality.
Encouragement is needed by everyone just to keep them going. It’s one of the most important elements of life. Without it, we shrivel up and die. In online communities, over time, we begin to take each other for granted. We are so busy with our projects we forget that others are busy too. We first forget to say ‘thank you’ now and then, and finally we forget to say it at all. Everyone needs some sort of recognition for their efforts. We need to know our time is appreciated. It doesn’t matter what the work is, we need to hear that we’re doing an okay job.
Some members of anywhere.Com can’t wait to get home and log on to their site. They love it. Why? You can guess why, I think. Friends. Encouragement. It’s a small thing to give, but oh, so very important. Don’t deny it to anyone because of a perceived slight.
Real life affects us. It can’t help but put the humor in our writing that everyone loves, but remember, it also adds the anger, hurt and rudeness that we sometimes show in our posts and replies. Don’t take it so personally when it happens to you; holding grudges is not good for you. Forget it! Offer a word and a smile. If it isn’t accepted, give it more time and move on, but don’t carry on.
Perception is stronger than reality.
Try to forgive online offenses, they usually are not truly directed at you, but caused by an off-line incident. You just happened to be the first person encountered after the event. Forgive and forget with understanding, because you know, you too, have unintentionally offended someone with your posted comments and understand how easy it is to do.
Perception is not always reality.