This a slightly edited post I made on another journal a few years ago, but the despite the passing of time, the message and intent are still important to me.
There is always drama. Always. Stupid, pointless, useless drama, and were these actual in-person interactions, it would never happen. Because in person, you would never get away with (or feel like you could get away with) the things people say when they’re online. There are no interruptions, no gasps of shock, tears of pain, none of it. The human element is removed, and the reactions are filtered. Online interactions always lose something in translation, allow certain kinds of actions to be followed through while excising others entirely from the equation. And at some point, we take advantage of and count on that.
You can yell and everyone hears you. You can scream and rant and insult, and no one even has the option of cutting you off with a well-earned slap across the face when you’ve gone too far. That line that exists in social interaction, that prevents us from saying the horrible, wretched things we would say if we had nothing stopping us, it does not exist. So we say those things, because we can. We know we can.
Online interaction proves more than anything else that words can hurt. They can cut and hurt and leave marks far longer than physical attacks often can. The scars you don’t see, the blood you don’t feel on your hands.
It isn’t brave. It isn’t “right.” It isn’t okay to do it just because you can.
When the rules, the guidelines, the accepted parameters of how we treat one another, are taken away from an interaction, a conversation, a relationship, are no longer there and visible, we can become monsters. We can be horrible, we can harm, we can destroy, and no one can stop us. Does it matter? Is it liberating? It is corrupting?
Maybe it’s all of those. But, “when nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do.” The same holds true here. Because that line doesn’t exist, because it is so easily forgotten, because you cannot see the face, hear the voice, sense the palpable mood in a room full of people when you speak–because of all these things, our decorum, our treatment of others with respect, matters all the more. Because it is so easy to ignore, and to act as though I that center around which this universe revolves. I am the one talking, and I am the one that you will listen to. Because I command your attention, because I am the most important one here. I. I. I. I.
This isn’t not true, but it isn’t true, and it isn’t false.
The standards we give ourselves for how we treat one another are not set in stone. They are not oxygen–they are not a hard fact, a thing we must acknowledge or else we die. They are things we create. They are mutable, adaptable, changeable, and elective. This is why they are so important, because they exist only when we create them. We chose how we treat one another, how we interact and acknowledge one another.
My words are power, written and spoken alike, and I will treat them with the respect that they deserve, with the care that they require because they are so dangerous, so deadly, so wonderful.
Other people deserve our respect. This is not a fact because nature makes it so. This is a fact, to me, because I make it so. This is why it matters more.