Six Questions on How to Play Nice

On Friday, I wrote a post titled, Play Nice, about commenting and harassment online with a few questions to consider about how people treat each other. Today, I’m going to try to answer those questions by giving some ideas on how we could possibly change the behavior.  I really don’t know if this will ever be solved but I think it’s a big problem for a lot of social media especially Twitter.

1. How do networks and society get people to treat each other with more respect online?

This requires a philosophical change of the way people view their interactions online.  There needs to be some way to incentivize people to watch what they say online.  There needs to be some type of punishment for acting poorly.  Right now there is not.

2. What makes interactions different and easier to mistreat people online?

There is a major disconnect from face-to-face interactions that doesn’t allow the exchange of emotions.  This exchange of emotions is what makes people act inappropriate in person.  It also doesn’t usually allow for instant feedback.  You type something on Facebook or Twitter and then you might not get a response for an hour, if you ever receive one.  In person, you’ll not only see the look on the persons face but you’ll usually receive an immediate response from the intended person or from the people around you.  There is a form of punishment in face-to-face interactions, which is usually not legal.  Online interactions have a hard time mimicking this affect and the legal aspect has been slow to catch up.

3. What is the role of the networks that allow this type of behavior?

This is a major question for Twitter & Facebook but I think Twitter has the more serious problem. Yes, people act ridiculous on Facebook and I’m always amazed at the huge fights with the most amazing acquisitions are thrown around by everyday people over nonsense.  This is probably were I disagree with Jesse Mecham.  Facebook’s use of real names has probably helped against the type of threatening comments that are used on Twitter especially towards women. I think both have a responsibility to not censor their users but they also need to protect them. A line needs to be drawn and I’m not sure the people will be able to do it.  These companies should set a precedent by stating how they believe people should act.

4. How do you incentives people to act better or be more conscious?

There needs to be a form of punishment for people who act inappropriately online.  Growing up parents would tell their children that they shouldn’t do anything they wouldn’t want on the front page of the newspaper.  It doesn’t mean people don’t do anything negative in real life but I think this idea drastically cuts down on the number of negative acts committed.  I think there needs to be a similar force online.  Before doing something inappropriate there needs to be the idea that this won’t go away and it could come back to haunt you in the form of lost jobs, job prospects, and relationships.

5. How/can there be a way to negatively affect people due to their actions online?

There could a website that collects comments from the main social media networks and allows users to search users to see all their internet behavior.  I think employers would be interested to see how their employees or future employees act online.

6. Does public shaming work or making the negative comments more visible?

Bree Brown says public shaming doesn’t work and it only leads to more bad behavior. I believe her on this matter especially when she talks about people trying to shame fat people or drug addicts.  I do think there does need to be a way to make people actions more visible.  If they were more visible I think it would greatly reduce the amount of negative actions online, specifically in networks like Facebook and Twitter.

These questions are mainly focused on large social networks.  I’m not about censoring the internet.  I don’t think you really can censor the internet nor do I think you should.  There is a place for uncensored content and non regulated areas.  I do think certain social media networks should be different.  I don’t think there is any good that comes from harassment or shaming on Twitter and Facebook, and people should be responsible for their actions.  There is a reason these things happen on Twitter & Facebook but not LinkedIn.  That because there could be repercussions from your employer and coworkers.