I’m all for using the virtual space and integrating digital citizens and all that, but why do people bring their offline ish online? No, seriously, why?!? If I sent you an email, would you reply to my P.O.Box? Or if I wrote you a text message, why respond with a phone call? Well, okay, bad example, but you get my point, yes?
And no, I’m not talking about posts like this one, or this one, or this one. Good customer care should be a statutory right, and decrying the lack thereof is a perfectly valid use of the interwebs. What I am talking about is people taking trolling to a whole new level by airing offline laundry on the net – clean or otherwise.
I’m talking about the guy who has a fight with his girl and instead of settling it like a man, he fabricates some online exposé that will be storified and live on for generations. Or the boss who tweets you to let you know you’re expected in the boardroom in five minutes.
Or the ‘honey-mooning’ couple that over-shares their ooey-gooey private jokes. (Get a room! Or at the very least, use your WhatsApp account. Jeez!) Or the guy who tweets his wife to ask her what’s for dinner. On the public timeline. (How now?) Or the guy that tweets, ‘Niko hapa nje. Fungua gate.’ Ever heard of knocking?
I’ve been in the ‘online world’ for a while, and I’ve noticed that most people distance their real lives from their virtual ones. For some people, it’s separate to a point of schitzophrenia (which is a discussion for another day). But others seem to think it’s one and the same thing. Either that, or they have no sense of common boundaries. SMH.
Let’s look at it this way. You don’t wear school uniforms to the rave unless it’s some kind of theme night. You don’t wear micro-minis and eff-me-heels to work unless it’s Friday. And you definitely don’t wear your granny night gown to your booty call, unless of course he’s into that kind of thing. So when it comes to private vs public communication, why are you crossing territories that have no business being together?
Or let’s look at it another way. If you have some sort of white collar job, you probably have an official email address. Chances are you have a personal address too, for – you know – personal stuff. If you’re like me, all five of your email addresses redirect to the same inbox, but still, in essence, there’s a clear separation.
Either way, most official addresses run on Outlook, and have – you know – access to (or from) your IT department. In other words, the office computer guys can read your email. So you probably don’t want to be whispering sweet nothings in the office. And you know enough to leave webcam sessions for the privacy of your bedroom. So why, pray tell, does this common sense not extend to other areas of your life?
Here’s the scenario. I send you a private message via gmail. You choose to reply on Facebook. Facebook, where my boss routinely checks my wall to make sure I’m not surfing on my sick day. Is it really that difficult to go to gmail – the place where you received said message – and hit reply?
Or worse, I send you as DM, or as my good friend Pyro calls it – Do Me. And you choose to reply on the TL. Why would you do that? No, really, why? You can call it a leaked DM or ‘hack’ a couple of times, but after a while, I just call it annoying.
A part of me suspects it’s a form of exhibitionism. It’s like saying, ‘Come see what we talk about in private. Nah, she won’t mind.’ Which, incidentally, is the thought process behind every nude photo/video that ever got ‘leaked.’ *Sigh*
Or maybe it’s more about cowardice. I’m too chicken to come punch you in the face so I’m going to log on, use some silly pseudonym, and attack you in front of the whole cyber world instead. Granted, not all cyber-bullies are anonymous. Some have absolutely no problem letting you know just who they are. But meet those same pitch-fork-wielders in person and watch how sweet and docile they become.
For some people, it’s not about trolling at all. Some people just seem to genuinely think that – for example – replying to a sexy text message by shouting the response in front of your mother, father, and entire extended family … is a really good idea. Because that’s essentially what you’re doing when you get a message in one forum and respond to it in another.
Here’s another scenario. You have a friend IRL. (That’s In Real Life. I think.) You occasionally chat or whatsapp each other. For some reason, you stand each other up for a hot date. Now, instead of doing the mature thing and showing up on their doorstep to throw a bitch-fit, you start lobbing virtual grenades at their Facebook profile or Twitter handle, and creating scenarios from hell.
They say common sense is not always common, so I’m going to put this down as a request. There’s a world of difference between beef and tweef, and that’s exactly as it should be. So grow up. If people choose to use a pseudonym online, respect it, and don’t go throwing around their government names on the TL. Or worse, calling them by their handle at work, or at family gatherings. *cringe* There may be a perfectly valid reason for their anonymity. Maybe they’re spies, or mental patients, or secret personas of the Great Universal AI!
And when it comes to communication, keep to the right lanes people! Reply emails on email. Respond to DMs on DM. Keep your fist-fights in the boxing ring. And do not, ever, under any circumstances … cross-over Twitter mentions to Facebook. Some of us have mothers and daughters (and bosses) on there!
♫ Coldplay ♫ Fix you ♫