So this is what it's come down to? It's strange really.
Just hang with me while I ramble about this because I think we need to start a dialogue. I think people need to start really thinking about this.
I've been fairly lucky in my blogging career to have had fairly few nasty comments left on my blog. It seems to me, that if you have more than your mother reading your blog, you are a target. And these nasty comments are, almost without exception, left anonymously.
This is what it has come down to.
I recently had the displeasure of taking a highly annoying flight from Houston to Denver. I had the window seat and just as I was getting settled in, I looked up to see the biggest wannabe gangsta headed straight for my row. Now I don't know, maybe he was a true gangster. Maybe he was drug running. Who knows. But I wasn't happy when he sat down in the middle seat next to me. And I was even more unhappy when as I was bending over to get my book, the girl in front of me quickly reclined her seat right into my head. Then she proceeded to turn on rap music without headphones.
The isle seat in our row remained open and I kept thinking that gangsta boy would move over but he wasn't budging. In fact, he was getting closer to me. And then someone started farting. For real.
So I'm setting there, crushed up against the window, with my shirt over my nose trying to read my self-help book with rap music playing. I was getting so annoyed I actually thought in my head "Hey Snoop Dog, you are soooo up in my grill. Yo bettah step off and scooch on over before I pop a cap in yo ass."
Sadly yes. That is what I thought. Shameful. But I didn't say it, because well, he was right there, up in my grill.
But I might have texted it to him.
So I stewed the whole flight. And then when the plane landed and we were waiting to get off he turned to me and said, "Can I ask a question?" I said, "Yes" hesitantly. I thought he might ask if it were me farting the entire two and a half hours, but he said, "Does this plane go to Sacramento?" And I happened to know that it did so I told him yes.
He then said, "So I can stay here?" and that's when I noticed his hands were shaking. And so I said, "Yes, you can, but depending on the lay over time you might want to go to the terminal and get something to eat."
Blank stare. So I said, "You can get off the airplane and go into the airport and get something to eat if the plane isn't leaving for a while."
And then he got it and I got it. He was scared to death. He had probably never been on a plane before. He didn't know that he could move over to an open seat.
So maybe he was scared because he was running drugs. But my mom sense told me he was just a kid, trying to be cool.
And I was so glad I hadn't been cruel.
Because I very easily could have been. I'm never going to see that kid again. He didn't know my name or where I live or anything about me. I was anonymous.
The thing is there really isn't any such thing as anonymity. When you do something cruel or kind to someone else anonymously, you join a collective group. You become part of a whole that is known as either the "The Kind" or "The Jerks".
So we don't know your name. You are still a member. And chances are, your family and friends already know you are a member.
Can you hear your children playing in the other room? Is you spouse out in the yard? Are your friends across the street?
You are on the other side of your computer screen, but you aren't alone.
Some of my friends have turned off the comments on their blog. They just don't want to deal. But I like feeling connected. I like feeling like I've created a cyberspace where people come and talk. I like to think of it as a vertiable "Cheers" on the web.
You know, where everybody knows your name.
This post is dedicated to Leslie Sutter, who might very well be the social media director for "The Kind".