Have you ever written and e-mail, blog, or posted a comment on a social networking site that you felt “bad” about after the fact? I find myself considering what I write these days more carefully than I used to. In my latest book, “The Teenager’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; A Parent’s Gift…” I warn teenagers about this phenomenon that I call APC “Alternate Personality Communication.”
APC is created when the communication is filtered through technology. We tend to be less human than we would be if we were sitting across the table or in the same room as the person with which we are communicating. I have become more aware of this and try to keep it in mind every time I post or comment on a post.
It is very pervasive in the political arena and its impact is corrosive on the entire process of governing. And even in my research of Blogs in the Software Testing community, I have found the same phenomenon. I would bet the mortgage that it is universal and pervasive in all social interaction that is filtered through technology.
So what can we do? As everything in life we can only control our own actions and the first step is awareness. We need to be cognizant when we communicate through technology of the “tone” we are taking. We need to ask ourselves if we were standing in front of this person would I “say” the same thing I am about to write? If I write this can it be “misconstrued” in any way?
I am not saying, don’t be honest. I am saying be as honest and respectful as you would be if the person you are communicating with was standing right in front of you. We need to debate, challenge, and participate in the conversation if we are going to grow both personally and professionally. But we will move forward faster as communities, industries, and individuals if we do it respectfully.
Arguing the concepts without degrading people is what we should promote. If people comment, post, or engage in an inappropriate way we need to take them to task the way the new media has determined is the most effective; ignore them!
As technology professionals we need to lead the way. I am working hard on this every day I post or comment which is most days, several times a day. Most of you that are reading this are probably in the same place as I am. But even if you are not engaged in writing in the social medium, you probably write e-mails every day and can apply this concept.
If you would like to post a comment please do but I hope you take the above advice when you take me to task. Write on!