Would It Kill You to Be Nice?

Just another reasoned debate on a football forum

“You’re the worst writer in the world. Stop inflicting this **** on us, step away from the keyboard, and hang yourself. Go on, do it. Now.”

That’s not a comment you’ll have seen on my blog. But it’s an example of the sort of thing every blogger, journalist and Twitter user wades through every single day.

Because for some reason, the internet is making us incredibly angry. It’s making us argue past the point of reason. It’s making us set up fake Twitter accounts to harass the outspoken. And it’s making us avoid the comments section of websites, because we’re afraid of what we’ll find down there.

And regardless of why we do it, we all need to stop, let the red mist dissipate, and be a little bit nicer to each other.

Why We All Need to Chill Out

I know what you’re all thinking. “Who is this self-righteous piece of turd? This hypocrite, who’s called people fools, morons and liars? Wait until he reads the comments section!

Well before you pick up the poison pen, I beg of you just a moment of patience. Because being a bit nicer might just help you out:

Anger Kills Your Credibility

Where do you have your arguments? On Twitter, where everything is free for the world to see? On forums, using a username that’s inextricably linked to your traceable online persona? Or on Facebook, where future clients and employers alike will be looking for you?

Because that’s how the world works nowadays. Before we enter into a business (or a personal) relationship with someone, we see what we can find out about them. So we Google them. And if we don’t like what we see, we look for someone else.

Put yourself in that client or employer’s shoes. Would you trust the sort of person who’ll threaten to drown somebody’s cat because they think Thor is better than The Avengers? And would you willingly take the advice of a blogger who’s name is on dozens of comments pages, just above various ad-hominem attacks on Laurie Penny/Richard Dawkins/Nigel Clough?

Your Snark Is Your Readers’ Petty

Of course, anger’s not just limited to social networks and comments sections. Sometimes we bring that anger home and display it for all to see on our blogs. Because, after all, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of snark.

Except for the fact that the things which get you hot under the collar don’t bother your readers. In fact, you’re just coming across as petty. And nobody is going to take you seriously if you’ve got an axe to grind against (what they perceive to be) the most undeserving of targets.

It’s A Waste of Your Time and Talent

Let me just check Twi… RAAARGH!

We’ve all done it. Spent hours embroiled in an argument over whether or not grammar matters, or debated the relative horrors of Pinterest and Google+ well into the night. And there’s not one person reading who’s spent at least ten minutes crafting a response designed to skewer another commenter or Tweeter in order to leave them reeling.

But what’s the point? Why are you wasting your time arguing with strangers? And if you can pull out a perfect Twitter riposte with only a few minutes’ thought and revision, well why aren’t you putting those skills to work in a more productive manner?

Arguing online, riling people up and moving from heated debate to heated debate is fun. And it’s always nice to Hulk Out once in a while. But really, is it worth the damage it’s doing to your reputation? Is it worth your time? Is it the best possible use of your talents?

Would it kill you to be nice?

 Be nice – follow me on Twitter.


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