What makes mean? Digital cameras?

Michelle Jones at the Exposure blog asks Do Digital Cameras Make Us Mean?

Last year I abruptly stopped viewing two photoblogs I had previously enjoyed very much. The reason I stopped looking? I was overwhelmed by how cruel people can be.

Remember the grade school rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” ? That was a good lesson in grade school both to the point that the recipient needs tolerance and for guidance to civil behavior by not attacking others. As Michelle observes, some of those kids never got the lesson. As adults they create an ugly scene.

The ease and immediacy of digital cameras and online photo sharing tools seem to allow the lowest common denominator to creep into our photographic endeavors.

It is not only in that arena but in others as well. It has been known in electronic media since the early days and has received significant rigorous research since about the mid nineties. It has its own terminology: SNERTS, Trolls, and so on. There are guides for civil behavior and manners in electronic messaging communications. But the ‘mean’ still infests dialog and discussion and presentation. A lack of civil behavior disrupts and destroys productive online relationships.

“Think first before putting mouth in motion” is one of many proverbs that tell us that it is a human problem of long standing. That means that it is up to us to rise above it. We have to decide that civility is something we want. We then have to illustrate that in our own behavior. Then, perhaps, we can figure out how to encourage others towards civil behavior as well.

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