Face on the Faceless

facelessThe single biggest disadvantage to online communication is that it removes a great deal of context from people’s daily interactions. I cannot count to you the number of times that I have seen arguments explode for days because people disagree on this or that thing. (Although, to be fair, the other element in this situation is that far more people who have the potential to disagree are now in contact with one another.) I understand that a certain number of disagreements are inevitable, however the phenomenon that troubles me is what I think of as ‘dehumanizing’.

Think about it like this. So you’re friends with various VO people on Facebook. Maybe you know them, did a tele-coaching session with them, maybe they just friended you and you accepted because they have a microphone as their picture. You see them post, perhaps about a gig they took, and didn’t charge ‘enough’ for, perhaps it’s a political or religious opinion you don’t agree with, and you decide to correct them or to air your opinion.

I’m not making excuses for anyone’s behavior, but if that person responds less than kindly to you, take a moment and try to see it from their perspective. To you, they are nothing more than a name, some bio details, and a picture. But they are a living, breathing person, with their own challenges and problems, and you really have no idea WHY they said what they did. You don’t know them, and you aren’t giving them the benefit of the doubt.

They’re faceless to you. They aren’t a real person with depth and feelings, they’re just the text on the page, and so you judge them, react quickly, and cause pain.

What you find funny could be so easily misunderstood, and just be seen as mean.

Yes, people in general should develop a thick skin when it comes to online comments. But rather than assuming what others should do, wouldn’t it be better to start your words with a little kindness?

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