My take on the internet - or, a call for civility

NYSteelersFan4 made the following observation in a recent comment:


I really don’t get the whole bash the Bengals (or any other team) stuff personally, but I fully recognize I’m just different in that regard. We hate it when they do that stuff to us, so let’s do it to them? I don’t get it.

klompus replied:


you'll find that when you're on the internet

you subtract your age by 15 and act like that


The problem with the internet is that it allows people to say things that they could never say to someone's face with no apparent repercussions.  Like NYSteelersFan4, I have been distressed by some of the personal attacks on fans or players from other teams by members of BTSC.  I get it that some of their fans are annoying.  But if they are too annoying our alert moderator staff bans them.  I don't see that this behavior on the part of a few fans of other teams gives us the right to go and be equally obnoxious on their websites, forcing some other poor moderator to bring down the ban hammer. When we do that, we give the people on the other fansites permission to do it to us, thus setting up a vicious cycle. 


And it also distresses me when people feel free to make personal attacks on our players and/or coaching staff. It is certainly possible to make reasoned cases that a given player is not up to the demands of a given position, or that a given coach is not appropriately using the resources available to him.  But that is very different than making inappropriate remarks about their intelligence, their sexuality, or what have you. As someone pointed out in a post a month ago or so, none of these people have damaged you personally.  Unless, I suppose, you bet a great deal of money on them, which is scarcely their fault.  That is the risk you take when you make your bet. And it makes me feel sick to my stomach when people even joke about stuff like what was done to Tommy Maddox.  At that time I couldn't care less about football, and it just reinforced my opinion that a great many football fans were classless Neaderthals.


So yes, I take the point that I think klompus was making - that people tend to be automatically reduced to the level of hormonal teenagers when they hit the "create fanpost" or "comment" button.  But I don't think we should let people off the hook for their behavior just because this is the internet.  Furthermore, there is a difference (or at least there can be) between 'immature' and 'mean-spirited.'  It is also helpful to remember that when responding to someone via the internet, that person has no facial clues or other ways to discern if you are joking, sarcastic, mad, or what.  Thus the use of emoticons, as much as they annoy me, can be really helpful. I know that I have posted a few joking or sarcastic remarks that were taken at face value, and as a result I've tried harder to indicate that I'm not serious if that is the case.  


I personally think that BTSC would be an even better place if people would PREVIEW ANY POST OR COMMENT, (sorry for all-caps but I really mean it), read it through, think to themselves "would I still say this if this person were standing in front of me," and then, only then, hit 'post.'  I have hit cancel on more than one occasion when I've looked at something I had just written and decided that it was either inane or inappropriate.  Maybe I should have hit 'cancel' more often, but I'm sure I shouldn't have hit it less often.    


I think that in general the level of discourse on BTSC is much higher than the majority of the other fansites I have looked at, and I would love to see us try to always take the high road. We can be passionate and committed Steelers fans without being jerks. It just takes a little thought.  Spoken like a momma, I know - sorry, guys.  


P.S. - I would make an exception of game threads for this rule - people should be able to make whatever inarticulate and/or rude remarks they like.  I know I can't be responsible for my actions during a tense game.  (Do the Steelers play any other kind?)  After the second Browns game, my dear husband made a slighting remark about the Steelers, and I shocked him and everyone else (including myself) by yelling at him and then banging doors shut and other mature and reasoned actions for the next hour or so. 


P.P.S.  Right after we moved to Pittsburgh in the fall of 1995, my parents visited.  It was my dad's birthday, and he wanted to go out for steak.  We took him to Hoss's.  We walked into a room filled with people sporting Steelers regalia of all sorts.  My dad was wearing a Cowboys hat, a Cowboys jacket, and probably Cowboys socks and underwear, for all I know.  I thought "man, we're going to be killed," but nobody said a word or otherwise appeared to be disturbed.  I really appreciated that.  I don't know if my dad was trying to be a jerk or whether he just didn't think about it.  I also don't know whether he would have been treated that well a few months later - lol!

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