What we share online can have a large impact on one’s life. It’s well known that your online presence can be a factor in gaining employment, and more and more, that our online reputation links our personal and professional lives. Bottom line? It’s wise to be thoughtful about what to share online.
Here are the guidelines that I follow:
No Forbidden Speech
Jewish law is pretty clear on gossip, slander and the like. It can cause all sorts of damage, emotionally, financially, socially. It’s not okay. Don’t do it.
All the laws related to using appropriate speech are applicable to online interactions. Just ’cause it’s on a computer doesn’t mean it’s okay to spread lashon hara. I suppose it can be easy to forget this, and to feel like since it’s not being said to anyone specific, it’s not really a problem. It is a problem.
It may even be more serious (as if it weren’t serious enough), since some things posted online can reach an incredible amount of people, and so any gossip or slander can cause even more damage than if it’s being spread by one person to another. Online, it’s being spread by one person to thousands (or more, depending on the source).
I feel like I’ve been mentioning this a lot recently, but it’s just so true. What we do and say affects other people. I’ve been quite upset after reading particularly negative posts or comments, sometimes for days. On the other hand, if I’m in a bit of a funk, a funny link or an uplifting post can turn my mood around.
So, I decided that I would like to try to be a positive presence online.
Before I post, I ask myself: Am I sharing something which could potentially uplift people? Bring some giggles, or at least a smile? Perhaps provide a different perspective or (hopefully) useful advice? Give support to a friend?
Thankfully, I’ve been getting positive feedback about the blog (thank you everyone who has sent me such lovely emails!!), so I feel like I’m accomplishing this goal to some degree. B”H.
Everyone has different boundaries for how much they are comfortable sharing with the world. My litmus test is if the thing I’m posting would be something I would share in a room full of people, including my Rebbetzin. Is it the kind of thing that reflects well on me? On the frum community? Is it how I want to present myself to the world? Is it something I would be happy to share with a role model?
This means that, generally, I try to avoid posting things when I’m upset. I feel like if I’m even keeled while online, I won’t cross the line of what I feel comfortable sharing. I don’t want to have Facebook status or blog post regret.
Also, when I post anything related to my husband, I run it by him first. He likes that I have a blog, but I think he likes it more that I don’t air our private life through said blog without his consent.
I enjoy reading other points of view and interacting with people who hold different opinions or worldviews than I do, as long as we are able to interact in a respectful and positive manner. If you’re going to tell me that I’m a horrible mother because I don’t mother exactly like you do, I’m not interested in listening. Sorry.
There are lots of different opinions out there about, well, everything. Chances are, if you read enough articles or posts online, you will come across someone you don’t agree with. I certainly have. And there have been times when I have written heated responses.
Before I share these responses with the world, ideally, I try to stop and ask myself, “what am I accomplishing with this angry response? Am I going to convince this person that they are wrong by yelling at them online?” Probably not.
If it’s in a forum where I think my point of view could add to the dialogue, I wait until I am more composed before writing my thoughts in a neutral, non-attacking manner. I have found that sometimes calmly defending my viewpoint helps me to understand it better myself. Here is an excellent post on how to disagree respectfully online.
Those are my guidelines, what are yours?
Image by lulubrooks via Flickr
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