When I was a kid, I got teased a lot. I was into computers and dungeons and dragons.This was long before we nerds had taken over the world. I was also into performing in musical theater. This was a day and age before being gay (real or, like me, perceived) was even considered somewhat acceptable (and we have a good long way to go on that front, yet, I think). I was pretty good at ice hockey, but our school didn’t have a team. Unless you were on my hockey team from two towns away, all you had at your disposal to judge my athletic prowess was my almost infinite ineptitude at playing kickball.
When I was younger, it bothered me a lot. I’d often lash out in ways that would get me suspended or maybe even arrested if I were to do them today. In some of the least proud moments of my life, I would sometimes take to putting down others in an effort to feel better about myself.
As I grew older, though, I began to realize something. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t really looking at those who did it to me, and those to whom I was just as guilty, as “people.” They were just things in my way – some a bothersome nuisance and some a tool to selfishly help heal my own ego. Once I realized that these were all people with the same emotions and similar but unique stories to match my own, things became different. I knew how to approach it and I knew how to handle the situations better.
People Behind The Screens In The Cyber Age
In the cyber age, it’s even easier to overlook or forget the fact that even though we’re staring at an electronic device, there’s a real live person at the other end. The electronics and networks give us a path and means to connect, but we don’t always consider that what we’re connecting with is human.
As I did before my period of enlightenment, cyber trolls lash out with little thought that there is another human on the other site. You see something that upsets you and you lash out at it – not realizing that you’re not lashing out at an idea, you’re lashing out at someone.
Even in online business we tend to forget about the people sometimes. We talk about this ambiguous mass of entities that we call “site visitors” or “customers,” but do we really consider what these entities really are?
My friend owns a restaurant in town. It just opened up last fall and it’s doing well. For ages, we wanted to get a web site up but all the various pieces were taking time to get into place. We have a Facebook page going so we weren’t working with nothing – we just didn’t have a web site. The most common private message coming through on Facebook was, “Can I see a menu?” Of course, we had a picture of the menu posted on the Facebook page and pinned to the top. But that wasn’t where someone would expect to find a menu. You expect to go to Google, search for a restaurant and find a clearly labeled link heading to a menu in their knowledge panel. Instead of getting frustrated about people not being able to find the menu, we needed to redouble our efforts and put the menu where the people expected to find it.
Conversely, as we browse the web and look at shopping sites and news sites and various other business sites, we can sometimes forget that we’re looking at something made by humans, as well. The content, the information, it’s not just there for us to agree with, disagree with, to embrace, or to loathe – it is the product of someone’s personal labor and devotion.
Which brings me to what I hope will become both a popular and useful feature here:
Stock’s Slices of Life Posts at Equestics
On my Facebook profile, I like to occasionally share something that is a bit personal about myself. I try to make it have some sort of lesson, and it often exposes something in me that a some folks don’t know (or might never guess). It often ties into something relevant going on in the world at the time – important or otherwise. I always enjoy making those posts and really enjoy how well they are received.
To help folks remember that even if they want to blame me for something that I am, after all, just human, I’m going to occasionally pop on here and drop a little slice of life post on you all. I think it helps people to know a bit about me – whether they are reading my advice here on these pages or if they are working with me on some project professionally. No, I’m not likely to share any stories about the BDSM dungeon in my basement, but maybe you’ll get a look into some of the dark corners that contribute to making me me.
And, so, as you close out this tab in your browser and wander back onto other parts of the web, wave at all the people you see. You may not notice them right away, but they’re there. Behind every word, every meme, every silly Facebook quiz that says that your name and birth sign mean, “Super smart and excellent person”, there is a super smart and excellent person.
While you’re there, tell ’em I said, “Hi!”