Let me start with a relatively simple statement:
I think I'm a pretty nice, happy guy...
Now maybe it's a California laid back thing, maybe it's my immigrant family upbringings, maybe it's just the environment that I have been fortunate to operate under, and the love and support of my wife and kids. But for the most part most people who know me or get to know me are pretty much in agreement about this.
I also wholeheartedly believe that there's a place to be a nice guy in the AV Business where you can:
1) Do the right thing by your employees, clients, people you work with on a project, and *still* run a successful, profitable business.
2) Operate in the spirit of win-win and have it actually occur, creating opportunities in learning and collaborating and just plain getting along with people in whatever you do.
3) Still be seen as a successful professional and knowledgeable without having to resort to name calling, denigrating other's skills sets, or otherwise launching into infantile tirades about how everyone does it wrong except for you...
Now that I've got that out of the way on what I feel, let me tell you what happened and ruffled my feathers and prompted me to write:
This is a story anyone who's ever posted a comment or read an article online has had, I am not the lonely little flower bending in the wind over this...
It's pretty common knowledge that on the internet, you can go to any online publication or website and an article contains all sorts of random comments and the usual posturing and overall Lord of the Flies free for all, just as sure as your email inbox will overflow with great deals on prescription meds and promises of riches that are waiting for you in some subsaharan continent (just as soon as you send your bank info), this is just internet fact.
Now, I get that, the beauty of the internet at times is the anonymity that allows people to express themselves in the way they feel they have the right to, unfiltered and unfined. If you produce your work for the public, the public will sometimes respond in ways that you either didn't expect or didn't like - on that point I totally agree that you should probably just suck it up, buttercup.
So the other day, I put up an item up for discussion on my Google+ account, and yes I left it Public, meaning that anyone can comment on it (And I refuse to believe that doing that was my first mistake in all of this). This discussion was about a real problem that some AV Integrators are facing that affects their business model, making money and just staying in business, period...
Pretty harmless stuff one would think right? I made a request to make it relevant to share solutions and *not* make it about you. It started out with a lot of good info and what I felt was some genuine information sharing and peers helping one another - some call it "Reach One, Teach One"
The part that made me step back was how at one point what started as a seemingly positive discussion spiraled into vitriol, venom and being an internet know it all...
Why this issue came up, was that I wasn't writing an article, it wasn't in a publication. This was a personal post for discussion on *my* Google+ profile, and in there I run into someone who in the context of social/internet media appears to be that total Parallel Evil Universe Capt. Kirk to...my...deliberately...smiling...syncopated....speech....self...
Now we all have business that we either work for, or own, and we all have differing views on *how* we should be running our businesses. That's pretty basic stuff.
When further examining this, and weighing it against how I operate in that when engaged in the vast expanse of Social Media, I came to one simple conclusion:
No matter how you try to defend it, I just don't like rude people, at all...
The internet and people's ideas of "brutal honesty" or opinion mongering is a load of crap. A bully is a bully is a bully, more so when it's done from a cyber distance. You're not being honest, you're just trying to use the phrase to veil that you don't care what other people think, you just *HAVE* to make sure that people know what you think, and the rest is actually irrelevant to you.
(By the way if you use a statement that starts with "Now I have an open mind, but...." Then you don't have an open mind, you're actually quite closed minded and just lying to yourself and us in an effort to make it seem like you care - in order to try yet another end around for why you're right and we're wrong. Dude, just stop it... seriously...)
Now ultimately, as much as I was ruffled for *quite* a few minutes (in fact it prompted me to shut off the computer and just go play with my kid - so there was a lot of positives in that), once I had a moment to really reflect on it the next day, I was surprised over how I ended up feeling:
It saddened me...
The acutal good kernels of information that this person posted was completely lost in his incessant need to be antagonistic in what pretty much amounted to "If you see it any other way than I do, then my swearning and name calling will reinforce how much of an idiot you are"
It saddened me because I genuinely enjoy open dialogue, like I *really* enjoy the exchange of information where I walk away going, "man, I'm glad I had a chance to experience this person and get some really valuable stuff"
I walked away this time going "what a douchebag" and the pity is, I don't know this person, for all I know they might be great people to their kids, their dog, their community. All I'm left with at this point is a potential fundamental dislike for someone because.... well just because... And in some respects, I'm the poorer for it because I bet there would have been
some great info to share in the future.
So now what?
Well the defacto answer always is "ignore the people that don't matter to you" and yeah that's a pretty simple and ultimately stress free approach, and generally I try to abide by it.
But sometimes you just can't ignore it, sometimes you have to step forward and call it out for what it is, to remind people that no, acting like this isn't ok, and it's never been ok, the fact that you're on a computer doesn't change that and that there's never really any reasons to operate without the precepts of Grace, Courtesy and Poise.
Just be excellent to each other dudes, I know I'll try hard to do my part...