As a longtime blogger and user of the Internet, I have learned a thing or two about how to navigate the Web while maintaining my dignity and staying positive. I’d like to share my pearls of wisdom with you to hopefully spare you some painful lessons and help you be successful online. With that, here is the Internet Etiquette Guide!
1. Be Nice
If you want to attract the right kinds of people, simply be nice to everyone you meet. We all have the power to brighten others’ day with kind words online. My goal is to always follow the Golden Rule in my interactions with others. If you can find a single instance of me being rude online, I would be surprised to hear it. I sometimes share staunch opinions on issues, but I don’t wish to ever make fun of someone for their opinion. Being nice also makes it easier to have lots of fun online because you’re not busy trading attacks with people, and you’re free to engage in mutually beneficial discussions.
2. Be Clever
On the Internet, the rule seems to be that if you don’t have anything interesting to say, don’t say anything at all. Comment sections can be even more interesting than articles themselves. On my “10 Cool Details You May Have Missed in How to Train Your Dragon” article, I’ve gotten numerous comments from people pointing out things I didn’t even notice in the film, most notably that Hiccup is left-handed! New fan theories, insights, and Easter eggs are constantly being found and shared online. And you have a chance to share in the conversation and add something new that no one else has ever thought of before!
3. Never Whine
There’s no better way to incite furor and indignation than to start complaining about how people on the Internet are unfair. Just ask Ghostbusters (2016) director Paul Feig. It’s no one’s job to police other people’s behavior online. Let people show their true colors and demonstrate your own moral rectitude by never resorting to name-calling or bashing. Negativity is a recipe for misery. Don’t focus on others’ misdeeds – just be the bigger man and people will be able to judge who is right and who is wrong.
4. Don’t Post Potentially Embarrassing Media
This might sound strange coming from a guy who posted a potentially embarrassing video of himself last year. But I did that to illustrate a point about myself and films. Sexually explicit pictures and other content you don’t want the whole world to see don’t belong on the Internet. They don’t belong in text messages. Assume that everything you send out in digital format will find be eternally accessible on some Web page somewhere. This will make you think twice before engaging in behavior that could lead to crushing emotional damage.
5. Ignore Angry People
Most people who come to this website and leave comments are so gracious and kind. I’m amazed by how good you all are. There have been a few who wish to vent, and I happily accept their criticisms when I can tell they’re passionate about a film I’ve talked about negatively. But as with anyone online, I’ve had my fair share of people with unreasoning hatred of me because of who I am rather than what I say or do. Those people I tend to ignore. I can’t hear their arguments over their angry actions.
6. Don’t Always Seek Attention
I find it so weird when people go on Facebook and announce to the world that they’re hungry and need a ride somewhere. Why not call a friend and ask for help instead of announcing this problem to world? Or they boast about mundane things, like feeding their kids or surviving another day. The truth is that even among your circle of friends, people probably don’t care a whole lot about these things. If you always seek attention, you’ll turn a lot of people away over time because you’ll come across as a taker, not someone who’s willing to give and take.
7. Be Genuine
The truth is always the best way to go. People online can spot a phony a mile away. If you’re a shill trying to drum up support while acting like a disinterested bystander, you’ll most likely just come across as a complete fake. If you have some other disingenuous intention, like lying on an online dating profile or pretending to know about a topic you’re ignorant of, you’ll soon be discovered as a fraud and discredited. Don’t live in fear of being found out. Just be genuine and you can avoid a lot of confusion and hurt feelings.
8. Don’t Demand Anything
No one owes you anything online. You’re not entitled to others’ respect or time. Be grateful for all of the amazing resources available on the Internet and all of the unique people and perspectives you’ll encounter, but never demand that people or websites change to accommodate you and your feelings. I personally care about people, but there’s no way I would demand everyone treat me the same way. Everyone is free to choose kindness or rudeness, openness or secrecy, intelligence or baseness. Live and let live.
9. Use Sparingly
The Internet is both addictive and ubiquitous. That’s a dangerous combination. It’s a wonderful tool for research, communication, and entertainment. But it has a dark side, too. Place limits on how much time you spend online. When I was a kid (pre-Internet), I took a challenge once where I didn’t watch TV or play video games for 30 days one summer. That was not easy, but I found a lot of things to fill my time outside and in books. Unplug once in a while and make sure the Internet remains something you control, not vice-versa.
That’s just my friendly advice.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.