I've noted a disturbing trend in my blog-reading of late. Several notable bloggers aren't being responsible with their emotions or their words. In fact, they're allowing themselves to be downright mean. Insults are flying. Name-calling, accusations and harsh judgments abound.
C'mon people, being "authentic" doesn't mean you should say whatever comes into your head. And, just because you can use your blog (or podcast or online video) to say whatever you want about whomever you want, doesn't mean that you should.
Like it or not, A-list bloggers will be looked to as role models. And therefore, those A-listers who are communications professionals and are actively promoting blogging and other social media tools as a viable communications vehicle for the business world need to be especially cautious about how they themselves use the tool.
You should know better, and should be using best practices in all your communications efforts, as you are setting an example. Blogging will never be adopted widely by business if there are so many examples that prove the stereotype that blogging is just a vehicle for opinionated sniping, complaining, name-calling, undocumented accusations and profanity.
So, here is a best practice I would like to suggest: if someone offends you or misrepresents you on his or her blog, podcast, video, etc., don't start a blog storm, contact the person directly and privately to discuss it in a mature manner. We had to learn these lessons when email was a new tool: The written word can easily be misinterpreted. Don't use email to address a dispute. Don't copy people unnecessarily. Don't forward emails to people when it was assumed that the communications would be kept confidential. If we've learned those lessons with that communications vehicle, can't we reduce our learning curve with this one? Why copy the whole world when you get upset or are having a dispute with someone? Don't air your dirty laundry or that of others. Not only does no one really care, but, at least for me, seeing all that negativity pop up in my RSS reader puts a sour taint on my day.
Just because we have a new communications vehicle available to us, that doesn't mean that we should use it indiscriminately.
So, today on Stop Cyberbullying Day, let's all join together and make a vow before this mean-spiritedness gets too out of control. Let's all vow to use all of our communications channels, including blogging, for good not evil. Let's be positive and kind. Let's address our disputes appropriately and maturely. Let's set a good example, and prove that this is an important new communications vehicle that has many advantages and should be taken seriously. Thank you.
If you wouldn't say it in person, why say it online?
Don't write it.
Don't forward it.
This is part of the anti-cyberbullying campaign from the National Crime Prevention Council:
You can post it and other similar messages on your website.