How Does One Comport Oneself in the Ethersphere?

A question of etiquette in the blog environment.

The question of how one goes about expressing opinions on subjects that really matter while at the same time maintaining composure and respect for one's correspondents is a very difficult matter.  Too often we are watching black type appear in white boxes.  Person?  There's no person here!  Let us conduct ourselves as we would in the privacy of our own home, throwing things across the room--and so forth.  But the reality is that we are more public than we ever have been or, perhaps, reasonably should be and it is important to bring to mind that every person is deserving of respect and compassion as far as we are humanly capable of doing.  When we disagree, it can be done respectfully--either in silence as we bypass (in charity) what could be a sharp rebuke of the deplorable taste exhibited or we post a comment that demurs from the central thesis of our blog-host.  It is always important to remember that we are communicating with and responding to another person on the other side of that blank white screen--a person who is as vulnerable and easily hurt as we ourselves might be.  When we remind ourselves that we are still interactiing as people, it may become easier to treat one another with the respect each person deserves.



  1. I agree. Sitting here now--I'm alone and it's hard to realize that many people may read this message in a very short time.

    I try to ask myself, after composing a message, how I would feel getting this message.

    If I do this faithfully, I seldom, if ever, get into trouble. It's when I don't, that trouble arises and I find myself apologizing, or hastily removing the message, even though it's been out there.

  2. Steven, thanks for this plea for civility. I've been "online" since the days of single-line, dial-up BBSes in the mid-1980s, and from time to time I enjoyed crushing others with snide or clever rhetoric. In fact, I was pretty good at it. But then I lost my stomach for intellectual cockfighting, mostly because I stopped to ask myself why I was so compelled to prove my supposed superiority in public.

    When I started QP in 2007, I decided that there were certain thoughts, moods, and opinions which, however real they are, don't need to gain admittance to the blog. That doesn't mean the site is all puppies and rainbows, or that I aspire to be the Norman Vincent Peale of the blogosphere, but as a writer, I'd rather entice readers to return to my site with stuff we might mutually enjoy rather than give them reasons to run away.

  3. Dear Fred and Jeff,

    Yes to both. When I was somewhat younger I felt the need to make myself larger by shrinking the landscape around me and I had the capacity to do so. On piece of wisdom that comes with maturity is that you are not nearly as big as you think you are, even when you are.

    The people who most impress me are those who meet Henry Higgins's definition of a "gentleman" on the kindly side--all are treated equally and with equal kindness. I don't live up to the ideal myself, this I know, but:

    "Ah, but A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"




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