And the winner is…no one

I noticed a trend with online communications: people cross lines online they wouldn’t cross with face to face interactions. People say things or do things and don’t think of the future repercussions. For some reason the thought is out there that simply saying “I’m sorry” is enough to take it away. Why should anyone (particularly a stranger) accept an apology?

I’m not like some that have an online persona vs. the offline person. I’m the same person online as I am offline. I usually pick my battles carefully so when I cross a line, it’s with a person I never intend to have anything to do with again. The line that’s crossed is breaking the camel’s back, to cop a phrase. The odd thing is, there are times when I try to back off to avoid a confrontation and the person (people) keep coming at me. Keep trying to prove their point. Perhaps it’s my business training but that’s not a smart thing to do because it usually ends up bad.

Understanding social cues in a social environment is important. Knowing when to back up, cool off and put things aside for another day can make all the difference. The internet is one large social environment where there are bound to be disagreements and differences of opinion. Utopia doesn’t exist. The internet strips away the physical cues of face to face interactions like someone’s body tensing up so you know they are mad or someone’s eyes tearing up making it clear the person is hurt.

Instead the only tools available are the words and how they are phrased. If someone is trying to retreat from a situation by saying, “there is no point in talking about it anymore” or “I’m done talking about this” but continuing to talk about it pushes the person in a corner. What do most people do when they feel threatened? Protect themselves because the person was basically saying “don’t go there” or “back off”.

Of course if you let someone talk long enough you’ll usually find out their true intentions. You might not like what you see but accept what you see. This is the internet, people aren’t always the way they seem. When someone shows you their true colors, accept it and move on. There are plenty of other people to play with on the internet. Again, Utopia doesn’t exist. Walk away, never look back.

As with all things, everyone messes up. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean. Sometimes we let our tempers get the best of us. Sometimes we’re taken advantage of. Sometimes we’re unappreciated. It could be that a person feels like they gave all they are willing to give and enough is enough. Could be people just don’t like you. Things happen…it’s when the same thing(s) repeat themselves where one has to open their eyes, look at the social cues, realize things aren’t working, and make decisions appropriately. The cues are usually there, it takes wisdom and guts to look them dead on and face them.

Take the time to understand social cues on the internet. It literally can be the determining factor of whether your online experience is a success or a failure.