When I was growing up, my parents and teachers taught me to be polite to others. Admittedly I haven’t always been so, but due to their guidance I was and am aware of when I’m being impolite to someone and often follow it with an apology. Recently a number of actions within the web community have made me question others ability to be considerate to others.
Polite and politeness has been defined in the dictionary as being:
marked by or showing consideration for others, tact, and observance of accepted social usage
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be polite to others. Treat others as you would want them to treat you. Naturally if you’re riled at something you might immediately react and be inconsiderate to others, this happens to most of us.
With the advance of technology we now have the ability to tweet and blog our, sometimes negative, thoughts and feelings on a whole manner of subjects and we often do so. When we take the time to write a tweet or a blog, we need to pause to consider what we write (admittedly more so with a blog post). During this pause we have the time to think about how we might approach what we want to say.
For me, especially if I’m annoyed at something, writing it out often calms me down, and before I hit ‘send’, I re-read and often heavily edit what I’m going to write. Especially if the annoyance is aimed at a particular person as I believe that naming the people in question benefits no-one, least of all you.
Over the last few months, there have been a number of incidents where well respected members of the web community have expressed an opinion on a topic in the public eye which others strongly disagreed with. Instead of doing the mature thing and having a discussion about the topic in hand, many articles and posts were written in anger that amounted to little more than personal attacks on the people in question.
Now I understand that there will always be people out there who will hide behind their computers and launch personal attacks on those who they disagree with. But I expect more of the web community, and especially some of the more well known and respected figureheads who have deservedly built up a good reputation and following.
In our community you never know who you might meet at a conference or a workshop, or who might be the ideal person to collaborate with on your next personal project; so it never pays to burn your bridges before you even reach them.
Be polite to, and respect each other. It pays off in the end.