Daily Archives: February 10, 2012

Are we nice to each other online?

imageApparently we’re nice to each other online. 

Forget the back biting and bitching that goes on.  Forget the bullying and the harassment, we’re nice to each other online.

But are we? Really?

A report out from the pew research centre reports that:

  • 85% of SNS-using adults say that their experience on the sites is that people are mostly kind, compared with 5% who say people they observe on the sites are mostly unkind and another 5% who say their answer depends on the situation.
  • 68% of SNS users said they had an experience that made them feel good about themselves.
  • 61% had experiences that made them feel closer to another person. (Many said they had both experiences.)
  • 39% of SNS-using adults say they frequently see acts of generosity by other SNS users and another 36% say they sometimes see others behaving generously and helpfully. By comparison, 18% of SNS-using adults say they see helpful behaviour “only once in a while” and 5% say they never see generosity exhibited by others on social networking sites.

I’m not so sure that 85% is the right figure for being mostly kind.  Perhaps 85% of Americans who like taking part in surveys, reported this.  But there is a LOT of vitriol, harassment, bullying and spite out there.  Facebook has several examples of children bullying other children.  It’s not limited to children either.

We do experience some bad behaviour online:

Some 49% of SNS-using adults said they have seen mean or cruel behaviour displayed by others at least occasionally. And 26% said they had experienced at least one of the bad outcomes that were queried in the survey.

My colleagues at ZDNet have similar problems. Perhaps it’s because our columns are considered fair game to anyone who wants to take issue with anything we say. Violet, has has her fair share of Internet aggression, writes about it – and is roundly criticised for doing so.

Perhaps we set ourselves up for bad behaviour, perhaps by our very presence online, we encourage comments of spite, vitriol and hatred.  If so, it’s a sad reflection of the cowards that hide away under a pseudonym and exist to lash out and troll people with opinions.

Make your fingertips your friends – and try to say nice things about people. You’ll be remembered for it…

Image credit: Pink Sherbert

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Technorati Tags: ,,,