I am a great advocate of the internet and believe that it is a force for good, I am not immune to the bad points and sadly I have also encountered the ugly side on several occasions.

The specific brand of ugly that I am referring to are the ‘keyboard warriors’.  The people, who for whatever reason, seem to lose all sense of decorum and even basic good manners when expressing their views online.

In my mind there are two types of ‘keyboard warriors’

Keyboard Warrior Type 1:  The Nasty Troll

The first type and probably the type that springs to mind at mention of the word ‘keyboard warrior’ is the nasty troll who specifically seeks out controversial discussions and viciously attacks other people and their views.

They take great pleasure in inciting anger amongst those taking part in a discussion and will often specifically single out individuals that they know are likely to respond to being baited.

Trolls are nasty. There is no place for them in the online world. They are destructive and add no value to the debate.

99% of us see the trolls at work, ignore their rhetoric and move on. A small 1% join in with the trolls, fuelling the situation and making matters worse for the victim.

Keyboard Warrior Type 2: The Accidental Anarchist

Keyboard Warrior Type 2 is an altogether different kettle of fish. This time we are talking about normal, rational human beings that in the ‘real world’ would never dream of saying something offensive to another person. Yet for some reason from the security of their keyboard they feel it is their right and their duty to speak their ‘truth’.

A few years ago I set up a local community Facebook group. It was and still is something that I am very proud of. It has become a vital reference point in my local area and has facilitated the start of many friendships and business relationships.

It is most definitely an example of how we can use the internet for ‘good‘ in the world.

However, time and time again I was amazed at how some people would share their ‘opinion’ on this forum with little regard for the impact they were having on other people.

They seemed to forget two things:

  1. They weren’t involved in a private conversation and what they were sharing could be viewed by 3,000 plus other human beings.
  2. They wouldn’t talk to people and express their views in such a way in the real world yet they found it perfectly acceptable to do so in the online world.

Often they were completely oblivious to the impact that they were having and the upset that they were causing. Frequently when tempers frayed and a post got out of hand there would follow a series of apologies.

Being malicious was never the intent, very often the perpetrator ‘just didn’t think’.

So my rally cry for everybody who shares information on the internet and on social media is ‘don’t post ANYTHING that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying to somebody in a face to face conversation.’ 

This calls for complete honesty.

No fake bravado allowed.

Would you say it?

If you would, then go ahead, post your views and stand by your convictions.

But if there is even a moment’s hesitation, if your bravery comes from the comfort of being protected by a computer screen then stop and ask yourself ‘am I being kind?’

Kindness is a very under-rated commodity these days but it is one stock that you can guarantee will always pay dividends.