With a new year just underway, I was happy to be contacted by Real Simple magazine regarding their new campaign: "Be Nice on the Internet Week." It's my wish that every week could be "Be Nice on the Internet Week" so thanks to Real Simple for getting us started.
I'm a longtime subscriber to Real Simple (and was interviewed for their online edition last year), so I'm extremely happy that the editors have chosen to address the reasons why civilization seems to break down the minute the words "leave your comments below" appear on the screen. Here is a link to Real Simple's terrific article. You can also follow the discussion on Real Simple's Facebook page and Twitter feed. Hashtag is #BeNiceWeek.
Unfortunately, I have experienced rudeness and sometimes crudeness (profane language, threats, you name it) on this blog and in comments sections following online news stories in which I've been quoted or profiled. Each time I've had a piece in media outlet with a large audience (TODAY Show Moms, Chicago Tribune) part of me has thought: "Here come the harsh comments."
That's not even counting the many parenting message boards where discussion of food allergies deteriorates into name-calling and worse.
It's always surprising to me that a mother talking about the best ways to take care of a child with a life-threatening medical condition can raise so much ire. I started my blog to help other parents in my situation and to address the issues that concern those of us in this boat. So why the rudeness from people not part of this experience?
Negative online experiences have shown me that food allergies are a greatly misunderstood topic and more education is needed about them. Usually, hostility towards parents and other bloggers in my situation is a sign that someone doesn't truly understand the issue. Instead of getting upset and saying to heck with my blog or online media outlets, rude comments and offensive remarks have made me think about how to get my message across in a more effective way. These comments have also made me think twice about any impulse to make negative comments of my own.
Negative feedback makes me even more grateful for those of my readers who take the time to say something positive. So let me take this opportunity to say something positive back. THANK YOU to all of you have offered your own experiences, provided a resource link, asked a question, given an answer or simply shared your ups and downs so that someone else knows they are not alone.
That's what online communication should be about.