Fighting on the Internet

I have a confession: I’m terribly fond of reading (mostly) American self-help blogs.  These are aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to develop their business.  There are some excellent people doing interesting work out there, even if they are a bit too devoted to the cause of Seth Godin.

This week, I swear that Mercury must be in retrograde.  These are people who usually spend their entire professional lives being relentlessly upbeat (and charging you at least $47 for an ebook on how to improve your life).   However, this week I have already read two major tirades about the horror of internet marketing programmes (written by internet marketers in the same circle, generating screeds of impassioned comments); and now today, one of my favourite small-business bloggers has written a whole piece about being dissed by one of her clients who reacted badly to an appointment that was missed.  Commenters soothe the ruffled OP until the Client Scorned shows up to put her side of the story, and boof, we’re off.     Fight fight fight.  (And then comment deletion.  Sigh.)

…It’s like Livejournal, or Techcrunch just after Steve Jobs has launched something.  I mean, I know internet drama.  I just don’t expect it on a WordPress clone.

I suspect this is what happens to people after slightly too long spent Being Really Positive.  On the  plus side, it clears the air. On the negative side, well, it’s bad for everyone.  There is a huge amount of trust involved in buying coaching services online.   People are not always confident.   And in this context, seeing a blogger or indeed a commenter go off on someone can really give one pause for thought.

Personally, I am not sure that  modern business relationships are going to survive the Twitter Search function. Or, OMG, trackbacks.


5 Responses

  1. Ha, I guess that’s where the .@twitteruser would come in handy… 🙂

    • Well, that would post to everybody, or so they tell me. 🙂

      I think both Twitter and the rest of the Web could do with a Friendslock.

      I think we’re all still digesting the WAIT YOU WERE RUDE ABOUT MY BRAND/FILM/BOOK TWO WEEKS AGO STEP OUTSIDE NOW thing, like famous Twitterers blocking grumpy fans. Or airlines searching for mentions of themselves.

  2. This is the unfair advantage that those of us who’ve been on LJ since the year dot have over the rest of the internets: we have much more practice in how to do personal online and in public. Much more than blogs, LJs tend to mix topic-based discussions with the writer’s personal life, and people learn how to interact with both kinds of content without being shits. Or maybe it’s just the regulatory effect of F_W that ensures the community clearly demarcates what kind of behaviour is Just Not On!

    • I was going to make a reference to screencapping practices. Heh. Still, it’s probably for the best that one particular conversation got deleted.

      Even on Twitter, I keep looking for the Lock. Sometimes you want to vent stupidly online, the way you might vent in the pub. At least our conversations can’t be searched in real life – although I’m now imagining some sci fi episode where you wander into the Dog and Duck and can access the bitter bitchfest that your colleagues had about you three weeks ago.

  3. I’ve recently been lurking on a work-related online forum. It has been fascinating, and uncomfortable, to watch some conversations that have escalated into accusation and counter-accusation to the point that the moderator has stepped in and several ‘warnings’ have been given. Some of it is definitely related to not having the visual context of face-to-face communication but some of it not. The point you make about trust and confidence is really relevant here because there are now people are choosing not to use the forum because they’re too scared or fed up.

    Some contributers I personally think have been over-sensitive in their reactions and seen attack instead of a direct and challenging comment. I’m left wondering, in the debate about rights and responsibilities, what the responsibilities are of the responder not to escalate something that might not even have been meant in the way they have perceived it.

    Part of the trouble is I think that in some part of our psyche we all think we’re perfect and we all communicate perfectly. And so should everyone else.

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