Spam. Viruses. Flame wars. Trolls. Hackers. The internet sure seems like a rough and tumble place. But is it possible that using social media makes us more respectful of each other and more polite? Being polite whether online or off, is strongly influenced by your relationship with person on the other side of the conversation. If there’s no chance of seeing that person in real life, doing business with them in the future, or understanding much about them—there’s a much higher incidence of an impolite interaction: anonymity breeds rudeness.
And the more anonymous, the more rude. So, online forums that allow anonymous posting or little user validation are breeding grounds for bile and the vile (see 4chan… if you dare). Even Reddit, which requires that its users reveal zero personal information, still has a reputation system that
On the contrary social networks that promote authenticity and personal identification. Be yourself, and you have to stand by your rep. LinkedIn, AirBnB, even EBay are great examples, though more private invite-only social networks like A Small World demonstrate the concept as well.
Is it possible that the era when the pushiest jerk gets ahead is coming to a close? Maybe not, but the revenge of the nerds has certainly proven its might, and those who participate in the global conversation with impeccable ethics may just see rewards beyond those knowing smiles.