Wednesday 4 August 2021

Thought Picnic: In person or at keyboard, we are people

It is all about people still

There are places on the Internet where I have pitched tents and invited people to picnic with me in the Wild West frontier of the dangerous and unpredictable climes of an ethereal or Internet world that presumes to confer some anonymity where in reality, it hardly does.

The kind of abstraction that allows you to interact from your keyboard that whoever you engage is not so much human but characters you read on the screen might easily rob you of the essential qualities of humanity from basic courtesy and consideration to sympathy, maybe empathy, and a functioning expression of emotional intelligence.

That we can forget that we are dealing with other human beings can unwttingly creep upon us making us completely unaware of what we might be doing and the harm we are causing others. Now, in general, I might pass for quite old-fashioned, and to some, it might be a failing, but my demeanour is one cultivated over decades of education and example, necessary for establishing respectful relationships.

Just a greeting then begin

Just as I cannot see myself entering a room of strangers without offering a greeting before asking a question or making a statement, the same goes for what happens online, the comportment, the respect, the courtesy is no less valid if all you do is encounter people at the tap of your keyboard keys and from what you read on your monitor.

This became an issue when I engaged someone who had time and again visited a forum where on entering he simply made a demand without a greeting. For me, it was irritating and entitled with a bearing of utter disrespect, the audacity of such an attitude was an affront that it could just from its demonstration be acceptable, but not if I had anything to do with it.

Challenging the uncouth

I addressed it suggesting the immediate demand could likely be the formality in places I have never been and how it cannot be considered proper. To which he responded that no one else had complained and I was only one out of so many making an issue of it. Whilst I agreed that I alone took umbrage, you do not need a democracy or a vote to determine the need to treat others with courtesy and respect, it should be a given without any need for prevarication or argument.

The point I was making was simple, when you enter a room of strangers, whether in a live setting or online and have any requests to make, you gain their attention respectfully and courteously with a greeting, now, if that is not a reasonable premise, we might as well all be uncultured and Barbarians. My interlocutor was having none of it, I was an irritation questioning his lien to act as he will in an open forum.

Unwelcomed for obduracy

Open as the forum was, it had clear rules and unwritten norms of courtesy that hinting and addressing were not getting across to our friend. Upping the stakes, I suggested I could both complain and kick him out of the forum. He was not backing down, daring me to do whatever I would and still making his case that a singular request for decorum was insignificant compared to the silent majority of the unperturbed. Yet, to do the right thing should not be a subject of election but one of enthusiastic intention with commensurate action.

And so, with the vested ability and authority I had in the forum, the said person was ejected though not banned, their card is marked. Any new return without a requisite greeting will be frostily met with ejection and without prior engagement. What saddens me is how people act against their best self-interests with obstinacy and obduracy. There is a moment to acquiesce and accept failings when pointed out, and with some humility you can earn the respect of others, but if you default to haughty determinism, you will always come off worse and be excluded from polite company.

That is old-fashioned society and I like it, everyday.

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