Imagine you have spent a long time building your on-line reputation. You have spent years talking to people, befriending them, helping them and building trust. Your network has become a source of advocacy for your character and your business. You are held in the highest esteem.
Then one day, in respect of a relatively trivial matter you lose your temper, you rant, you criticize people and institutions that others in your network greatly respect. In doing so, you cause people in your network to see you in a different light, as an unbalanced, prejudiced crazy person lacking in judgment and sensibility.
Such a thing is inconceivable, an anathema, isn’t it? Yet only yesterday I saw that someone in one of the well-known on-line networks, a member of many of its business groups, had flown into a rage in a discussion on one of the hobby forums. He lambasted his Government’s leaders and its institutions and saw Government complicity and conspiracy in many of the tragedies that had befallen his country. He seemed completely paranoid and unbalanced, so much so that another member of the forum posted that he would never do business with him and would never enter into a discussion with him on any topic. I felt the same way myself as no doubt did many others.
Our reputations are precious things and they can take a long time to build on-line. They are so easily destroyed by careless words. I am not saying we shouldn’t be ourselves on-line. We should not appear false, and we should all endeavor to give what we can. If we do have any unsubstantiated prejudices, though, we really should keep them to ourselves out of respect for our friends, and because we could destroy years of work and ruin our reputations for ever.
© Jon Stow 2010