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Social Media etiquette: Anonymously crossing the common decency and respect line

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When you post in a chat room, tweet on twitter, post to a forum, and comment on an article you are giving your opinions behind a veil of an anonymous poster. No one knows who you are or possibly why you are harboring so much animosity toward a particular topic. That veil of secrecy gives you the courage to say anything you want without any consciences; however some people lose sight and cross the line of common decency and respect.

We have all seen forums or article comments where mayhem breaks out and there are racial slurs and “F” bombs being dropped every which way. If we take that forum off line and turn it into a comment at a friendly social gathering, will the same mayhem break out? Will tempers flare and name calling rule the comments? Of course not; because in an actual social setting, without the veil of secrecy, common decency and respect will keep most people in check and the conversation will remain dormant.

So why do some people feel more empowered by their anonymous persona online? They can say just about everything and press their point across in a volatile way as they get really passionate. A normally shy wallflower can burst out of their shell online and become something their friends would never believe. Is this online alter ego behavior considered normal now?

Where is the line of common decency? Is there an online moral ruler that we are supposed to follow? How far is too far when voicing your opinion online? Do you care about others people’s opinions or do you just want to make your point ring the loudest?

Social Media etiquette is vague at best. There are no real rules to follow other than no threats or possibly some guidelines in individual forums. The common decency line is up to individuals to determine based on their own tolerances. And those tolerances are typically pretty high.

So where is your line of decency and respect? How far is too far and should there be some sort of universal conduct guidelines on the internet?

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