Choices have consequences

I’ve been trying to find a way to set this thread to ‘No Comments’, but either it isn’t possible or I’m just too thick to work it out. I’d appreciate it if people didn’t post any comments, though, because I just want to convey a bit of information and a POV, and I don’t feel able to deal with comments (whether kind or otherwise) at the moment.

I use the internet a lot, and, as all of us who do will have noticed, a practice has grown up amongst some people of imagining that they can write any old poisonous, malignant, insulting, hurtful stuff they like from behind their computers, and in particular (though not exclusively) to strangers. I suppose a few of them behave that way face-to-face as well, but I’ve got the impression that the majority of them believe that what we say from behind our computers doesn’t really constitute ‘real life’, and that real people won’t be hurt.

That’s rubbish, of course. We’re all real people, and our interactions on the internet are just as real as those we have anywhere else. We’re responsible for what we do and say to strangers on the net in precisely the same way as we are for what we do and say to people face-to-face.

Life is often a hurtful business, of course, and I don’t expect anybody to be able to get through it without suffering some scrapes and bruises. Nor do I believe that people should censor their views on the off-chance that they might offend somebody else. On the contrary, I believe it’s important that we should be able to say what we believe. We don’t have to say it nastily, though, which is the point of this posting. We don’t have to flail around wildly, or go for the jugular and aim to inflict maximum pain in order to make a point. I don’t understand why any decent person would want to post that way, and certainly not in somebody else’s space.

I know I’ve expressed this POV before, both here and elsewhere, and some of you who’ve seen me saying it may feel I sound like a broken record. Maybe some people think I’m sanctimonious. Well, if so then so be it. I’m saying it again, because I feel it’s important.

By way of illustration, as a direct result of things said by two people in the thread I posted here two days ago I received an email, this morning, terminating a friendship. On the face of it that might sound childish, but the point is that the friend who wrote to me had–rightly or wrongly–been so affected by things said on here that she just couldn’t get past it, and felt that things could never be the same between us again. That was not the result of things that I had said.

That friendship was very important to me, and the loss of it will cause me pain for the rest of my life. As a side-effect I’ve also had to withdraw from the Challenge, but the real loss is that of my friend.

I know that in the main I’m preaching to the converted, here, as only once or twice has anybody ever got nasty on this blog. I don’t plan to start moderating comments, because, despite recent events, I still don’t believe I need to. I feel so strongly about this subject, though, particularly in the light of this morning’s events, that I wanted to point out exactly what can happen when we choose to batter strangers on the internet. Things said here ARE personal: they DO wound, and the reality is that sometimes they’re INTENDED to do so.

Again: please don’t leave responses this time, for the reason I gave at the top.

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