No doubt about it! The internet is great if you’re an RVer. We follow many online forums, blogs, newsletters, and social media sites for maintenance tips, campground referrals, and all kinds of information about the RV life. There’s just one problem. Civility. Why does the nicest, most helpful RVer suddenly turn rabid when posting on the internet? Perhaps we all could use a few tips for using RV internet sites with civility.
One reason for joining an RV online group is community. Reading about fellow “RV road warriors” can be informative as well as encouraging. Learning about how other folks follow their RV dreams can inspire our own RV journey. The feeling that “we’re all in this together” makes unexpected trouble seem more manageable—especially when others offer good advice, words of sympathy, or even empathy, like: “That happened to us, too.” “Don’t give up.” “You’ll get through this!” “Keep movin’ on down the road.”
The rules for online engagement are blurry, at best. Yes, there’s usually a moderator who silences profanity or illegal activity. Other than that, participating online is pretty much a Wild, Wild West, take no prisoners, toughen up or shut up proposition. I’m all for the free exchange of ideas and opinions. I just wish these could be expressed with more grace.
As a writer, I know that words can either be your friend or foe. Words alone—even carefully crafted words—often do not clearly convey actual feelings or the intended meaning. The tone of voice, facial expression, and body language matter. These crucial elements for communication are impossible to see when the iPad, computer, or cell phone screen is limited to simple words.
For example, someone answered a recent forum question with, “We’ve had this same question over and over again! Look it up! I’m sure you’ve heard of Google!”
Knowing that words alone are limited when communicating online should make all of us more mindful of the words we choose. Sadly, that’s not usually the case. How do I know? Because I’m seeing more and more posts like this:
“Please be kind. I’m new at this.”
“Excuse me, please, if this has been asked in the past…”
“I don’t ask questions on this post anymore because I’m tired of being shamed. Excuse me for not knowing! I’m new at this!”
So much for community, huh?
What to do?
First, if a question or comment gets you riled up, think before you post. Remember: You are not required to give voice to your opinion. You’re free to move along. (And take that snark with you, please.)
Secondly, if you have a helpful reply, state it objectively. No need to question the motive or IQ of the one posing the query.
Lastly, remember that you, too, were once a “newbie.” You had questions, too. Put yourself in the other RVer’s shoes before you feel inclined to judge. Use grace. Civility.
Hope for us all
The following post sums up what I’ve been trying to say. Take a look and consider the advice, as well.
This forum is an exchange of ideas, questions, thoughts, and so forth. What good would this platform be if we said, “Look it up first. If there is no answer, then ask.” Good Lord, there would be no communication for weeks or even months!
When we started our RV journey several years ago, I asked the dreaded question, diesel versus gas. People were nice enough to respond even though it has been asked in every way possible for probably the last 20 years. My point is, most of us are an inviting group and don’t mind the repeated questions. We simply smile, understand the person asking is very new, and try to help as much as possible.
Comments? Please sound off below—kindly, of course.
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