Thursday, April 03, 2008

I Know, I Know....

Neat! Thanks for all the support and awesome contest entries so far! I forgot to give a deadline - let's go with April 8th, Tuesday night, at midnight. (Also, with regard to prizes - your prize will be selected based on your own wants/needs/desires/loves.)

Now, continuing on my two- (or more-) part installment on this - feel free to not read it if you're not interested, I know sometimes a blog topical miniseries can get to be a little too much - I got a few comments that made me feel a little negative-nelly. I don't think that was the comments' intention, but I re-read my post and felt like I was focusing too much on a few negative voices, made it seem like it was all I ever saw.....I should point out that I still think Ravelry is nothing short of awemazingsome, and nothing will stop me from visiting it no fewer than 87 times daily. It's only the fact that I spend entirely too much time floating around on the forums and stumbling into these rather touchy areas.

And to be very clear, there are at least 100 super nice and encouraging people for every one crappy downer person, and then another 1000 quiet people who know to not say anything if they can't say something nice. It only takes one jerky post to kind of bring me down - really, it's kind of like going to a party where there's 20 awesome folks and one REALLY obnoxious person. It's not that you're TRYING to focus on the negative, but isn't it hard to walk away from the party and not say, "Hey, what was with the jerk who argued with everyone all night long?"

Last year I attended a seminar on negative language and the power of avoiding it - for example, saying "Look up," rather than saying "Don't look down," because negative language has such an immediate and visceral impact, and people can't help but respond to it. It's so simple, but the power of turning negative words into positive words can be huge; like saying "I could use some energy!" rather than "I'm so tired." Even the smallest negative will only serve to bring you down further, where the positive can change your whole attitude. (Duly self-noted that I talk a good game, but I could use a refresher course...)

I guess my biggest problem is with people who don't think or care that even on the Internet, it's still a real person on the other end of that computer. And I can't stand the "Why do you have such a problem with honesty? Why should I only speak up to compliment and kiss ass?" argument. No, no. You're honest when someone solicits your specific opinion. There's no need to jump in with snark just because it popped into your head. And on the second point, that's simple: you compliment someone because it's nice. You avoid putting someone down because it's mean.

There were some wicked good points made in comments or emails that I think are worth mentioning, so I'm generalizing some of them for reflection:

1. Really? Mean people? I haven't noticed.
Good!!!! I hope you never do - it does tend to be concentrated more in some of the longer threads on the "main" boards. If you don't spend much time lurking around in known trouble zones (see also: copyright threads) then you're not likely to stumble across much nastiness.

2. The smaller group boards don't seem to have that problem as much.
I agree. I don't know what it is - even more similar interests, a feeling that these people are more like kin and are treated as such? But yeah, the more focused groups tend to seem more aware of their manners.

3. But Ravelry's so great!
It is, it is, IT IS!!!! There are 483,926 reasons to love Ravelry, and more reasons come up every day. Jess and Casey work SO HARD. Occasional mean spiritedness is one tiny part of Ravelry that, granted, can be overlooked. And I shouldn't single out - I mean, it's not just Ravelry - any place where you throw 15,000 different people with free will into a room, real or virtual, there's gonna be some conflict. I've certainly seen worse. (I used to be a moderator for the chat room of the official website of two popular metal/rock bands. Now THAT was a hostile room. Ravelry is a field of freakin' daisies compared to that scene.)

4. You know, I actually find it's easier to be nicer than usual on the internet, not meaner. People don't get as weirded out on the 'net as they do in real life.
Now THIS stopped me in my tracks. What a great point! I frequently will think in my head, "That girl is so pretty" as she walks down the street, but I'm not usually very likely to run up and tell her, because, uh, yeah, it's awesome to be paid a compliment, but she also may be like, "Wait. Is that person crazy? How long did she have to chase me down the sidewalk to tell me that? Is she sweating? Uhhh...find a way out of this situation." On the web, it's easy to just drop a comment that says, "Oh, you look GORGEOUS in that sweater!" without wondering if you're going to look like a stalker. Net-induced niceness - I like that!

5. People don't realize they're being jerks, and when you point it out, they're not likely to agree and/or care.
That's true. To give a parallel example, someone with an atypically unattractive puppy would never agree if you said their mutt was troll-like, would they? (Ugly puppies?! Never!!) So if you say, "Wow, you're being a jerk," that person may be ashamed, but more likely they'll disagree for some reason. They're being honest, it's their right, they don't see it that way - so basically all my words are doing no good, is what I'm saying, other than to serve to placate myself via jaw-flapping. Isn't that useful? I'm really contributing something to the world here. ;-)

I AM happy. I DO look for the good in the world. I DEFINITELY see more friendly, kind people everywhere I go than those who are not. I hate prescribing to the "one bad apple spoils the bunch" theory, but it's hard to ignore that one grating voice of dissent.

And there are bigger problems in the world than rudeness on a message board, certainly. But then again, really, when you boil it down - if everyone in the world was just more considerate of the feelings, opinions, and right to joy of others, we kind of wouldn't have any problems whatsoever, would we? I know that's Pollyanna - but hey, it's still kinda true. (Without dissension, though, there could be a spike in boredom and certainly a decline in creative new ideas - there's something to be said for a stimulating and constructive disagreement, and beneficial suggestions are almost always borne out of those situations - but constructive and respectful are always the best ways to go when framing a discussion.)

Maybe tomorrow I'll continue to beat this to death make use of finally having something I feel compelled to write about by posting the silly example of a sample conversation I came up with last night when Travis and I were discussing this issue. (As a male knitter and general renaissance man who works as an auto mechanic, where it appears he is expected to be a hairless ape, he is well acquainted with the mind-boggling ability of others to be complete verbal-diarrhea jackasses.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go write in my diary about all the people I can't stand. ;-)

(On an unrelated note: Nope, we're not pregnant/trying - the baby sweater is a gift for Travis' good friends, who just had a baby last month. Sorry for the false alarm - I should have noted the recipient.)