Some people say you should never say something behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face. How ridiculous! Can you imagine how many fights there would be if people followed this rule? Not only would bosses sack most of their staff for insubordination, but how many friendships would be in tatters?
No, bitching about people has to be done behind their backs. Which is one reason why it is a mistake to slag people off online. If you are nasty about a person in writing, then there is a good chance they'll end up reading it.
Yet how many times do you see people criticising others on Facebook, Twitter and in comment boxes? All the time. I also wonder why people seem to get so damn angry when they are online. Never mind road rage, online rage is far more scary.
Here’s my guide to online manners:
1. Before you attack someone online, ask yourself if you’d do it to their face. How would you feel if they read what you write and you then met up with them? As a wise socal media innovator, who alas is no longer with us, once said to me - treat social media like the pub. Don't go shouting your mouth off in the first five minutes - you'll look like a tosser!
2. Never run someone down in an email. These hang around forever, and they can come back and bite you years later. If you want to rant about someone, go for a drink, or pick up the phone if you’re desperate. Ideally call me, I love a good bitching session.
3. Be careful what you put in a text. It’s so easy to press the wrong button. A Freudian slip of the finger.
4. I have a few friends (amazing, I know), who are authors. And they get devastated by caustic reader comments. So even if you’re writing a review, think about being constructive as well as destructive.
5. Don't take yourself too serioulsy. I'm not certain but I think fun is still probably at the centre of social media, so AGGRESSIVE monologues are probably not required.