The subject is a rhetorical question as I neither need, nor expect, any answers. It does however pose some interesting thoughts that are rather unique to blogging in that, what I know about you is totally dependent on what information you provide.
As a number of you have noted on various Posts, Blogging hides so many factors that could be an issue for some people. The obvious ones are the visuals (significantly over weight, underweight, physical limitations and irregularities, dress and skin color etc), some of which could impact on how we react to certain people.
Accents can be a cause of difficulty for some people, either because it is simply a challenge to understand, and/or because it is associated with a culture which presents negative connotations.
Finally age! I find this one particularly interesting, and is in fact the basis for this Post. Age of a blogger, just like physical attributes and accents is pretty much a secret unless the Blogger decides to make such information public. However, unlike the physical aspects of bloggers which really should be of minimal interest to us, we should perhaps be at least more aware of the age “secret”!
My concern is how we react to controversial Posts and Comments because age could very well be a factor. If we cast our minds back to our teen years (or focus on today if you are a teen!), then most of you will recall a period of time when you pretty much had the world all figured out, and adults knew very little because they were all living in the past. Parents were probably the worst because… what did they know about life and the real world (as distinct from their world)?
I have come across a few rather controversial/inflammatory Posts and Comments, and have been taken aback for a few moments as the text on my screen in front of me sinks into my brain. I consciously avoid an emotional response as little purpose would be served. So what should I perhaps do?
My suggestion is focus on age! If there is no other data on the writer available, then contemplate their potential age, and if that seems to be a difficult task, then give the writer the benefit of the doubt and assume misguided youth!
A misguided youth may perhaps be influenced by a sound and logically explained alternative perspective, whereas being told that they are an idiot (e.g.) serves no positive purpose, and would probably simply reinforce their view of the world.
Doing nothing is, from my perspective, just as bad. Doing nothing under any circumstances is condoning it, at least from the perspective of the other person. How can they possibly be introduced to alternative perspectives of nobody says anything?
Can this approach backfire? Yes of course it can! You may be communicating with a youth who has a very rigid view on life as a result of their own experiences. Perhaps you are communicating with a very bitter elderly person. Either scenario could well prompt an offensive response to your efforts… but so what? At least you know that you made an attempt to offer a different perspective and, isn’t that really all we should expect?
Blogging is a wonderful communicating tool because it allows the focus to be on written thoughts, with none of the distractions that a face to face dialogue could have, but we must acknowledge that age is also hidden and may well be a key factor in an apparent insensitive piece of writing.
Who are you? It doesn’t really matter does it as long as we can share thoughts and exchange ideas on this “world stage”! It doesn’t really matter does it if we can spread the concept of compassion, understanding, friendship and peace. It doesn’t really matter does it as long as we make allowances for young and developing minds!
Food for thought.