Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Assume the Best - A Philosophy for Bloggers (and Everyone)

There have been some bloggy discussions in the past few weeks that have made me think. There's one going on here which has some very interesting comments and is well worth a look. Basically, some bloggers are calling for a kinder, gentler Blogosphere, especially between women. It seems we're not always as supportive of each other as we might be. (Sorry, I can't give you any examples as I always seem to miss the big fights.)

So here (ta-daa), 'cause I know you're all waiting with baited breath for wise old EPM to weigh in, (Hey - less of the "old") - are my thoughts on the matter:-

Assume the Best.

Because let's face it, in the absence of a face in front of us, and a voice to listen to, it's very hard to decipher meaning from words on a page. Especially when it's 140 characters or less. (Tweeps, turn around and pay attention.) Even when there's "LOL" in there (which incidentally, means "Laughing out Loud" rather than "Lots of Love"). Even when there's a smiley emoticon or a pair of smacking lips, or "With all due respect..", in there.

Even if we don't respond immediately, many of us assume the worst. Our hackles are up. We go away and steam about it, usually making things far worse than they ever could be. We go to other blogs and talk about it, we post about it without mentioning the offender specifically, we snap back with a comment that on the surface looks terribly polite, but the real meaning is there for all to see.

In short, we assume the worst.

So my suggested mantra is "Assume the Best". In fact I think this is a great approach to life in general.

Here's a few things to try:-

1. Read the phrase/post again and see if you can put a different slant on it. Perhaps this is what the writer meant?

2. Breathe.

3. I'd say "try to put yourself in the writer's shoes" but it's very hard to think like another person, even when you've had similar experiences. We all come to a situation with our own life experiences, so the way one person reacts to something is rarely the same as the next.

4. If you're still steaming, compose a response on paper or in draft. Read it out loud. If it sounds mean, ask yourself if that's how you want to come across.

5. If you're answer is "Yes", take a breath and ask yourself "How do I think people will react? Is this what I want?"

6. If you're really upset about something, that's even more reason to sleep on it, have a cup of tea or otherwise think twice before banging out a response and hitting the send button.

Don't you want everyone to jump to the best conclusions about you instead of the worst?


  1. Couldn't agree more. The Interwebs can be a wonderful thing, or a terrible thing. Definitely not a place for knee-jerk reactions. Not to harp on the 'old' thing, but one of the advantages of being, say 'more mature' is my level of experience - both personally and vicariously through friends. It's a lot easier these days for me to understand and imagine a huge number of varying circumstances that could lead to choices/decisions/actions/statements. I'm not too quick to judge anyone these days...

  2. Yes. I see SO many people fly off the handle at some imagined insult, and I know I sometimes do the same myself but I always try never to comment or respond online because you often read things totally differently when you've calmed down - I just ring my best friend and rant, instead. Far healthier!

  3. Have a cup of tea... now there's a good piece of advice!

  4. That a good philosophy! Not always easy to put into practice.
    I also like Iota's advice on a cup of tea!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  5. Like you I seem to have missed whatever slanging matches there might be or not be in the blogosphere. But I do agree that it's very difficult to gauge tone online. If I get an obviously offensive comment, I normally delete it. But I just don't bother replying if I'm not sure if it was offensive or not.

  6. This is probably the best post I've read on this subject this week.

    And I'm taking your advice - the new me is to do the blogger/tweeter equivalent of counting to 10 before commenting or making judgment on something in my timeline. By the time I get to 8 it's usually scrolled past and the moment has gone...

  7. Nickie - you're so sweet. On many levels!

  8. Great advice! Yesterday I posted something political on my FB account, something that was meant only for my close friends/family, but unfortunately didn't set my privacy level correctly before I posted. I got what I thought was a pretty nasty comment, but decided to walk away before posting anything back. I'm glad I did because when I re-read it, I could see how the comment could be taken as a sarcastic/funny comment. At any rate, lesson learned: check those privacy settings!

  9. Breathe is the best advice ever.

    It allows you to retort with diplomacy, calm and kindness. Nobody cankeep up snark for long in the face of that kind of style of exchanged.

    Source: Honed stratagy on AIBU on mumsnet, the mecca of online; off the cuff; steel bladed snark. Worked *most* of the time.

  10. Errrm though thinking about it I'm being just a tad "do as I say not do as I do" given that my last post but one was me swelling up and spitting venom like an enraged toad, at what somebody said to me online.

    I had to breath for a year after that one till I felt like coming back to the blogosphere.

  11. Well said. I found myself ruffling quite a bit last week and had 5 go's at posting a comment before I was happy I wasn't sounding huffy. I do think that when people visit blogs outside their area (ie, a writer of the luxury lifestyle visiting a frugal blog; or a non-mom visiting a mommy blog) that they should be really careful what the comment. They may well be outside their area of expertise. In the particular case I'm thinking about, I was thinking that 'people should know their place'!! I got over it...eventually.

  12. You are spot on and it sort of shouldn't need saying but it does. I made the mistake last year of trying to comment on a blog written by someone who had chosen to be childless (or childfree). I had found her by following a blog trail in the usual unthinking way and was trying to say something which both honoured her choice and offered an explanation as to why people might make a different choice. I was knocked out by the anger and venom of the response. I had not understood. It was a place to look for understanding and validation of her choice and my comment was seen as aggressive. Once I had picked myself up I just walked away but I wish they had been able to think the best. I certainly had not meant to hurt or challenge, but to try to explain. Wrong of me perhaps in that context. You live and learn.

  13. Liked your comment about think the best - great advice whether IRL and URL. It's too easy to take offence and I always try not to, though sometimes it's hard...

  14. Geez, I never say it all the first time. As an impatient freshman, I was able to test out of several pre-reqs I wasn't interested in, and maybe this can still be done. I do remember buying a macroeconomics textbook, cramming for a week, and getting a respectable enough grade to earn the credit. Perhaps your daughter could check this out. Looking back, it probably would have done me good to have to hang around with real economics students and professors in person for a semester, and I think that's part of the reasoning; to expose kids to people and ideas they wouldn't ordinarily encounter in their chosen field of interest.

  15. Grrr. Just lost previous message which was long! I agree with all that you say and tend to miss the spats as well - which is great. I would prefer a more inclusive title that includes women without kids, dads, bloggers in general tbh - "stronger together" sort of thing but not just for one group. Anyway. Can't wait to see you in June. You HAVE to come to my class!! Lx


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