The following is a short selection from a larger writing project I am working on. Given the shenanigans that went on over at Barbara's Buddhist blog yesterday and today, it seemed like a good thing to post.
In my opinion, making and receiving comments on blog posts should be treated in a similar way to how you would act with someone face to face. If you are committed to a spiritual path where honesty, compassion, and kindness are at the core, then it’s important to extend these traits into cyberspace. Although it’s harder to see and feel, what we say online can have just as much impact – positive or negative – as anything said in person. And because of the lack of non-verbal cues, it’s probably even more important to choose our words carefully while interacting with others online.
What I have witnessed online is that commenting on blog posts brings out the best and worst in us. When people are at their best, you can see ripple effects that spread across the world. A well timed supportive comment can mean all the difference to someone who is struggling and feeling isolated. A clear declaration of the truth in the middle of an embattled debate can shift the entire conversation. And sometimes, something someone says “goes viral,” spreading from blog to blog, across Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, positively impacting the views of hundreds and thousands of people.
And unfortunately, the same thing goes for comments on the worst end of the spectrum. A single personalized attack on a writer can shift an entire discussion in that direction. Lies can and do spread online, sometimes at an alarmingly fast rate. And the internet is littered with the wreckage of angry, hate fueled arguments that sometimes have spread into the flesh and blood world with terrible consequences.