Friday, January 24, 2014


It's not unfathomable to think that, in a few short years, the majority of our social interactions will take place online. More and more we use things like Facebook to keep in touch; Twitter to share links and witticisms; and Reddit to connect with strangers and share ideas.

I for one am not opposed to this trend. I think it behooves us to fight it. We should make the best use of the tools at our disposal and if that means cutting down on our face-to-face interactions, I'm okay with that

The only problem with online interaction is that people on the net don't know how to act. Browse the comments section of virtually any site and you'll see what I mean. Profanity, ignorance, racism, bigotry, misogyny, sexism, and homophobia are all standard fare; in fact, on many websites they compose the majority of comments.

People need to learn proper internetiquette.

We know it's polite to say please and thank you. We know it's rude to interrupt or talk over people or chew food with our mouth open. We're told to have firm handshakes and always make eye contact when speaking to others. Our parents and peers drilled these things into our head until it became second nature.

I don't think internetiquette will ever become as prevalent as the good manners listed above. Still, it's a conversation worth having. Maybe some of the people making rude, inflammatory, and offensive comments on the web haven't thought things through. Maybe someone will read this post and say, "By Odin, you're right Oscar: I am a fucktard!" and decide to change for the better.

Here's my summary of internetiquette. Feel free to add anything I missed.

1) Don't say something to a stranger online that you wouldn't say to a stranger in person

This is the most important rule, in my opinion. What you do behind the shroud of anonymity is a reflection of the person you are deep down inside. If you're kind and respectful in real life but attack people online, you are a coward and a troll. Next time you sit down in front of the computer to type out some hateful, toxic, misinformed bullshit, ask yourself: would I say this to a perfect stranger in a public setting? If the answer is no, then shut the fuck up. Next!

2) Don't get offended when someone deletes you from their friend-list

Chances are you did something to deserve it. Most likely you're the type of person who uses social media to voice loud, uninformed opinions as fact, without context, for all to behold. And that's okay because social media allows you to do this. Just don't get upset if people cut you off. If you lack tact or the ability to predict how your friends will react to your nonsense, maybe you should keep your crazy opinions to yourself. Otherwise, expect to lost some "friends."

3) Don't "friend" people you don't know

This is the equivalent of "don't talk to strangers." This applies to Facebook and any other application that displays personal details about you. In fact…

4) Use an alias

I call it an internet name. Here's how you do it: take your real name, tweak it slightly, and that's your internet name. Take Oscar Bellevue, for example. I could go with Olaf Beaumont or Oliviero Belmonte. You get the idea. This won't protect you from the NSA or Anonymous but it's enough to keep run-of-the-mill weirdos and stalkers away.

5) Don't down-vote statements because you disagree with them

This one applies to sites like Quora and Reddit where you can up-vote posts and comments you feel are relevant or deserve visibility and down-vote irrelevant posts that do not contribute to the overall discussion. If you disagree with someone, engage them in civil debate instead of down-voting and running. Liberal use of the down-vote button is troll behaviour. Speaking of trolls...

6) Don't feed them

A wise man once said, "Don’t argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." If you encounter a troll online--and you most likely will if you haven't already--do not engage. You can't reason with trolls. They are toxic little cockroaches who feed off the negative energy of others. The best thing to do with trolls is to ignore them entirely and deprive them of what they so desperately crave.


Anonymity doesn't give you the right to be a cunt (pardon my French). If you're thinking to yourself, "I'm a good person: I volunteer at the soup kitchen and help little old ladies cross the road and all my co-workers think I'm a sweetie; so what if I like to mess with people online?" read this post again. Who you are behind closed doors, when nobody's watching, that's who you really are.

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