Lately there have been a lot of talk about the issues within various communities. It might be the shit storm over in Reddit land, it might be the drama in WP World. It doesn’t actually matter for the purposes of this post.
Poisoned Well Poisoned Well
As my friend Helen asked recently:
Do you ever feel like the entire internet has been taken over by trolls because I feel like I’m drinking from a poisoned well right now.
All the time. Always have. People have always used the internet as a way to let out what they’re feeling without filtering it through their humanity first. They hide behind anonymity, or the simple shield that they can’t see the faces of the people they bully and humiliate. They see it as ‘just good fun’ or ‘just letting things out.’
My friends know I feel that way too. But I always ask them “Can I be unfiltered? I need a rant.”
The Internet Is Broken The Internet Is Broken
What we’re facing is the endemic brokenness of communities as a whole and their sewage spewage.
As my friend JJJ remarked (specifically about a subject but it doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this post):
… I’m waiting for a “things are broken” post …
J-trip, I know I’m not the person you’re asking for the post from but, yes, things are broken. Things are badly broken. Things have always been broken. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia. Things are broken because we, as humans, are broken. The online communities we tout as being fundamental to the growth of software development and that bind us together, closer, as humans, is broken because humans suck.
What’s broken isn’t PHP or Reddit or WordPress.
What’s broken is us.
And we remain broken because we don’t fix things.
Let’s Fix It Let’s Fix It
Fixing isn’t easy though.
Unlike your ‘in person’ community, an online one is incredibly diverse.
At the same time, we need to stop giving it a free pass simply because it’s online. Treat it with the care and love you would treat the people who come together to shoot arrows or sew or watch a baseball game. This is a community and we need to treat it like that.
Remember that what we do in public, and yes the Internet is totally public, reflects on who we are because it is who we are. Behave with integrity and honesty and be yourself. If that self reveals itself to be a bad person who does mean things and doesn’t care about the outcomes, then deal with the outcomes.
Stop pretending that there are no repercussions just because you’re online. Stop thinking that you can get away with being mean just because it makes you feel better. Start caring about people as people, online and offline.
And then there’s the hard thing. Stop letting people get away with it. We all fear the cry of censorship, but there will come a time when we have to stop killing ourselves. It’s our choice to keep the hatemongers among us, and it’s our choice to tell them to change or leave.
Make the right choice.