The internet is the world’s biggest culprit in making people brave, so they’re far more likely to express an opinion about individuals on line than in real life. It’s an easy win in the can’t-feel-better-til-someone-else-feels-worse game.

Social time-lines are the easiest places in the world to feel close to someone very quickly because you don’t have to go through any of the normal real-life social conventions.. such as meeting up, or even speaking on the phone. All the alarm bells that you might have in real life, won’t ring when all you have is words and an avatar in front of you. Instinct tells us when something is ‘off’ but the internet makes your instincts blind. They can’t work effectively to do the human job of filtering by gut feeling.

Which is why I ask the question, does it matter what people think of you on the internet? A lot of younger bloggers don’t know life before internets…I notice a lot of younger PRs are very reluctant to pick up the phone and make a call…but relationship developing needs real-life usually to build a real relationship, even with all this technology to hand. Evolution hasn’t equipped humans yet with the ability to filter feelings and instincts via a tweet – it will, in about a million years, and then we’ll all be fine.

Until then, we’re just fumbling about in the dark. Twitter and Facebook can make things feel very polarised with behind-screen ‘bravery’ – and negativity and bullying can come thick and fast – far more so than in real life – and it’s never been easier to pick on and terrorise individuals. That’s why you have to sort out who matters, and who doesn’t matter. Because the answer to Does It Matter What People Think Of You On Line? is yes and no.

So, ask yourselves these questions:

Do I have any relationship outside of the internet with this person?

Do I know where in the world they live?

Have I developed a bond through a familiar avatar or because I genuinely feel I have things in common with this person?

Do I feel afraid of someone who I don’t know in real life?

Am I over anxious to please someone on the internet who I don’t know in real life?

Do I feel that I’m not part of a special crowd in my time-line?

Does my timeline make me completely happy?

It’s only after you’ve really analysed what your collection of internet acquaintances really mean, that you’ll have any answers. Because it only matters what other people think if you’ve got a timeline or timelines you love and are comfortable to be in. And then, they’ll probably only think the very best of you, as you think of them.

Filters and block buttons are there for a reason – use them as much as you need to to find a comfort zone on line. Bullies are only effective if they’re heard; with the block button, shouting loudest doesn’t bring the automatic attention they crave – they can’t be heard at all. They’ll always be there – for all time – but it’s like the old philosophy question about the tree falling in the forest; if nobody heard it, did it make a noise at all? I’ve just discovered the half-way house of Twitter ‘Mute’ – not an unfollow but a way of silencing a user in your timeline. It’s HERE.

So, it’s not the noisiest that need your attention – it’s the people who don’t make demands, that have interesting things to say and that make you feel welcome that count. If your timeline isn’t like that, it’s time for a tidy-up.



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