Be Nice or Be Quiet

Back in the 1980’s an American minister by the name of Robert Fulghum published a series of essays in a book titled All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  One lesson that we should have all learned back in kindergarten, or before, is to “be nice”.  Many of us did learn to be nice, but some of us need to re-learn that same lesson.

The online world of social media (Facebook, forums, etc.) has made it really easy to feel like we are anonymous. We feel like we can say whatever we want while hiding out behind a keyboard.  It is too easy to be disrespectful, rude, nasty and mean online when posting a reaction.

The other day I posted a marketing question on a forum.  Maybe because I’m the one who posted the question and the one who knows the reasons why I was seeking the information, but the answers that people posted were absurd and made no sense at all in relation to the question.

It feels like the forums are just full of people that sit around waiting for somebody to ask a question just so they can pounce with a negative comment.  They purposely twist words around and come up with immature nonsense.  They don’t respond with anything helpful, useful, or polite.

Yes, I could decide to leave the forum if that is how they are going to respond. I have left forums before because they were nothing but negative nonsense instead of actual, helpful answers.  The forums really serve no purpose unless people can be nice, respectful and give positive answers.

It’s never helpful for anyone to be mean.  Even when we’re “anonymous” and hiding behind a keyboard, we need to be nice. The “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all” rule still applies. If your gut reaction to something on a forum is to post something nasty then it’s time to step away from the keyboard and take a walk or count to ten, something to calm down before posting an answer.

Many years ago, when social media and forums were just taking off, a lot of folks recommended a simple test to do before sending a response out there into cyberspace. Basically, you want to look at what you just typed and decide if you would say that exact same thing to somebody who was sitting within arm’s reach of you. Before you hit send, read what you wrote out loud and ask yourself if you’d say this out loud when you were in the same room. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online either.

You won’t always get along with everyone and you won’t always be able to be helpful either but you can always be nice.  Don’t be another troll hanging around waiting to pounce on everything with negative, mean, nasty replies that help nobody.

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode 442: Just Be Nice Appraisers

17 Comments on “Be Nice or Be Quiet”

  1. Good reminder. Thank you. I also just get to flippant and don’t use a good tone, even when I don’t intend necessarily intend it, that I would in a professional email or call.

  2. Great comment. After nearly 69 years on this journey I have left a few people on the side of the road for being consistently mean. A once in awhile bad patch I can tolerate.

  3. This post reminds me of experiences I’ve had with the Appraiser Forum where typical answers would be flippant and mainly an opportunity for the responder to belittle the newbie seeking answers to issues that would affect their abilities and career as an appraiser.

  4. A long, long time ago a very wise man once wrote: Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. I’m pretty sure he was not an appraiser.

  5. I was thinking of the same comment as Mark B. We seem to have lost the art of manners and simple respect. I love your comment about considering our response asking if we’d say the same to someone next to us. Unfortunately, I’ve seen people on airplanes and in public places that all seem to think they’re on reality shows that will get higher ratings if they get attention with their loud, rude indignation. Society rewards the angry these days.

  6. Life is too short to put up with people in most social media, and that’s why I don’t do facebook, twitter, etc., etc. I always ask myself if I what I write via the internet I would say to someone within reach of me and risk a beatdown or worse. What is posted is there forever.

  7. I have noticed this as well. It seems that some forums I have been in are filled with people who only know how to curse, insult, and make nasty jokes. It’s refreshing when I finally land in a forum where everyone is polite, mature, and kind. Those are the forums I stick around in.

  8. I left the AppraisersForum because of this. Facebook groups are an improvement, but still leave some to be desired

  9. You don’t have to go to forums to find stuff like that. I’ve seen trolls on your blog as well. I’m concerned that the negative stuff online is leaking into our world, most noticeably in politics. If we cannot be civil, society as we know it could be destroyed. Social media gets people desensitized to extreme viewpoints and language making it seem normal and okay.

  10. Great mini-sode. I think that although there are some keyboard-bullies, other times people lose sight of the fact that there is a person on the other side of that comment.

  11. Its not the anonymous commenters/comments that I worry about, but rather its often the comments that come from people who don’t want to be anonymous that I’m concerned with.

    Just because one identifies who they are, does not make their news show, their paper article, their blog, their podcast, etc. less of being garbage, if in fact its garbage. In todays world, all it takes is 1 in 100, 10 in 100, etc. to believe the garbage, and regardless of the facts, they have the power to influence policy onto others. All appraisers are racists, right? We need to defund the police, right? We need to erase the past by tearing down statues, right? We need to rewrite the history books so that our children can be taught a new version, right?

    Because the 1 in 100 or the 10 in a 100 can without cause, and often without facts, destroy individuals, industries, and perhaps even nations, do not discount the anonymous as often times they are the 99 in 100, or the 90 in a 100.

    Seek the truth.

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