“The reputation through a thousand years may depend upon the conduct through a single moment.” – Ernest Bramah
I’ve been seeing quite a few heated conversations on the internet lately. Of course, certain subjects lend themselves to such warfare more than do others, as do certain venues. Nonetheless, I’ve been surprised by a few of them.
Who would have thought, for example, that posting a job opening at LinkedIn would generate snarky, combative responses? Do potential applicants think that will leave them any chance of acceptance? Really? Who goes into a job interview, for example, and blurts right out, “Okay, Mr. Hiring Official, so what are you going to do for me?” Yeah, there’s a recipe for success.
Well, once you realize that some of those snarky comments come from potential competitors, it’s easier to understand their attitudes, at least. What I don’t understand is why they would they engage in that sort of activity on a site dedicated to professional advancement.
Seriously, what could such behavior possibly do for their reputations?
That brings me to the overall point of this post. In the new internet environment, it seems to me that one must be careful not to weave a web of discontent and anger at every opportunity. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t be honest; of course, we should. I am suggesting that sometimes it’s simply best to walk away. Be polite. Be quiet. Don’t pick fights.
I doubt anyone wins those fights, in the end. I suspect both parties are damaged, to some degree. That naturally begs the question: What should I do if someone attacks me? Should I not respond at all?
Well, sometimes yes… and sometimes no. Perhaps a simple “Oh brother” or “Good grief” will make your point, and throw the dirt back on the muddy snark. Perhaps you’ll require a larger response at times, but exercise caution. Remember your mother’s admonition when you were in the third grade: “Just because Billy wants to jump off a bridge, doesn’t mean you have to jump off a bridge.”
In an electronic medium, where we never meet face-to-face or engage in coordinated physical activities, we have only our posted words to build and protect our reputations. Furthermore, that reputation will be the primary means by which we build our business, whatever that may be.
It sure is difficult, at times. I’ve encountered circumstances in which I wanted to unleash a barrage of 4-letter words. Yet whom would that harm more? My target… or me?
To quote the bard, “Aye, there’s the rub.”