I have made that point before and I’ll make it here again. If you are out there trying to build your social network, don’t engage in behaviors that have the opposite effect. But we all know examples from the worst horror stories of downright nastiness to irksome comments that at best make a poor first impression. In a social network where contacts may be fleeting anyway, a first impression may be the only chance you ever have.
I suppose I could give you examples of nasty comments or alphageekery I have personally received, but what would be the point? We all know what it looks like when we get these socially inept messages fired (or perhaps misfired) at us. We all know what it feels like to be hit by one of them.
I try to remind myself not to put goals before people, because it’s in the getting-things-done mode that we seem to lose touch with our connections to people. Call me naive, but I suspect that most antisocial behavior is unintentional. Before we ever realize what we have done, we’ve accidentally made asses of ourselves for the whole Internet to witness. Like me:
Someone who contributes a great deal to my university’s community was tweeting some valuable resources this week as she always does. When she shared the link to our style manual, which had styles for technology, I was very interested. I have wanted to provide training for people in my department on using a consistent style for our technical documentation and had even looked at ]style guides elsewhere.
When I looked at our university’s style guide, I questioned the choice of italics for menu items and hyperlinks. Because I respected this person and wanted to get a feel for if I was off-base in my opinion on question of this style, I tweeted this: “not a fan of the choice for italics for hyperlinks & buttons in Tech Style Guide-makes it harder for users to scan documentation.”
The problem was, I was interested in my personal goal, I was seduced by the 140 character limit, and I had not reread my tweet. This is someone who should be thanked for bringing this information to us, and my tweet sounded like I was shooting the messenger for a style guide she didn’t create. (Luckily, this person did not take it in that way: a credit to her character, not mine.)
The truth is sometimes I wanted to believe all bad behavior is caused by other people wanting to make their mark by any means necessary. Sometimes I forget that the “other people” are really us: people who forget to think of others first and who later decide to write a blog post as apology and parable.