Just Whatever Happened to Online Manners?


If you noticed over the past few years that people’s online manners have largely disappeared, you certainly aren’t alone.

People used to have online manners. Those days seem to be largely disappearing.

I remember a time years ago when Twitter seemed to be the place where rudeness prevailed. But you could understand that: Twitter didn’t require real names. You create a clever handle and then you butcher whomever you wish.

The Facebook crowd, it seemed, behaved a bit better. That, at the time, you could also understand. Facebook users mostly used their own name and their own photo. People actually recognized each other. Relationships mattered more there.

These days, however, even that appears to have changed. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of Facebook discussions that quickly go off the rails. People act as if being rude and insensitive is what they’re supposed to do.

It happens on blogs, too.

For years, bloggers faced a comment problem. They found themselves forced to struggle just to get them. As fewer visitors left them, bloggers enacted little strategies like “always asking questions.” This didn’t work, of course, but there are still blogging gurus who insist you should always ask questions to get comments.

But the comments dwindled.

Nowadays, only a handful post comments. That’s fine. But when a bad-mannered visitor stops by with insults and disrespect, you suddenly notice it a lot more.

From the early days of this blog, I insisted on one simple rule with comments: Be respectful. Over time, I actually composed a list of rules for comments. But even the list boiled down to that same message: Be respectful. Some people, I realize, like complications.

Some people act like they have no idea what that means anymore.

Part of my real job involves working with social media. Frankly, over the past three-and-a-half-years or so, online manners took a nosedive.

I appreciate those who still have them.

But those who’ve jumped on the rudeness bandwagon have a zero chance of having their remarks posted on this site.

It’s my blog, after all. If anyone gets to make such a decision about what goes up (and what doesn’t) on this site, I’m the guy.

People who unload disrespect, like a visitor just yesterday who asked a moronic question and then proceeded to suggest that I was the one lacking common sense, might feel a little better about themselves by being nasty. But I can guarantee those remarks won’t see the light of day here.

All of us need to do better.

Online manners aren’t something that should have ever started fading away.

But it’s about time people take a collective deep breath and remember there are fellow people on the other side of the computer screen.

Those who can’t remember that simple fact should probably spend time away from the internet. It seems clear whatever misery they’re inflicting upon themselves is costing them their sense of decency.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.