Civility And The Internet

I guess it is because we are not interacting with a person face to face that has taken the civility out of our character while using the internet. Some are using the internet almost like a weapon against others. Facebook Expat pages, Expat Yahoo groups and others are full of sniping, hurtful comments that are made in such a way as to be an attack on a person’s character, finances, intelligence and more. Could it be because we have become a faceless entity that can say anything one pleases with no consequence for the action or on how it may have hurt someone’s feelings?  Many have several different ID’s on the internet so they can make their snide comments under cover of a pseudonym instead of their real name. Others come out openly as hostile and aggressive to attack without provocation or concern for anyone’s feelings, making grand assumptions of someone’s character etc. I also think some of the folks asking the questions are trying to start a fight. Looking to antagonize certain folks, what I would call “stirring the pot”.  Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into these conversations, they are a waste of time, energy and brain power. As one person stated after a string of nasty comments on one recent post, go outside and take a walk or something to that effect.

Both Joe and I are at the point of not reading these forums. I am sure we are missing excellent information but filtering out all the negativity is exhausting and unnecessary at this point in our lives.

Years ago the actors Charles Grodin and Carol Burnett came out in public asking for people to become kinder and gentler towards one another. At that time I laughed and thought it ridiculous to have to say something like that, but not anymore. I am saddened to see manners, civility and just down home courtesies removed from our daily lives. I feel that the fact that we are almost invisible with the internet being the major culprit that we have lost those things that make a civilized society work.

One of my mothers sayings was “if you cannot say something nice about someone don’t say anything at all”. That goes for the internet as well, if you find yourself wanting to be nasty take a step back, take a breath and think how that comment is going to hurt that person. Think about how your actions will be perceived by others that read your comments. I am not saying to not make a comment or to not correct an incorrect comment but to attack a person personally is crossing the line in my estimation. Someone asking a question looking for information to better themselves should not be treated to comments on their character or personal finances or anything personal in my opinion. Making someone feel attacked is not a way to get your point across. Trying to be kind and in an open way discussing an issue is more productive than character assassinations will ever be. Hurtful and mean-spirited personal attacks only take away from any good information that you may offer, you will always be looked upon as mean-spirited and a blowhard, someone whose ideas are not worth reading…sad because I am sure folks who have experience in a particular area could be a great asset to the community at large.

Everyone has issues, no one is perfect, if you think you are, you need a reality check because we all come with baggage, drag around our insecurities, wrap ourselves in the blanket of self-doubt and some allow those things to overtake who they are, to color their judgment and give more power to the weakness. We should perhaps look at ourselves as flawed individuals and allow for flaws in others as we would want them to allow for ours.

That to me is the definition of a civilized person, one who allows for the flaws of others…


32 thoughts on “Civility And The Internet

  1. AMEN! My first comment on my blog was an ignorant, horrible comment. I don’t belong to the Nicaragua forums anymore. Reading the comments on Yahoo articles destroys my hopes for a kinder, gentler society. I think it’s all done for the shock and attention one receives. Anyway, I’m glad you wrote this post. I like your new ‘look’. I use Twenty Eleven and I love it.

    • Hi Deb, thanks. We want to be able to keep up with things brought up in the forums but they have become so confrontational and hostile that we are shying away from them at this point. One post this weekend on a Facebook EC Coast group was so intense and so personal that I felt the need to write this article. Comments are welcome, constructive criticism is good because maybe folks like myself will learn from them, but personal attacks made in the form of a comment made in a hostile manner do no good except to get everyone’s feathers ruffled and the entire point of the conversation is lost…Have a wonderful week, Nancy

  2. I could not agree with you more. However, keep in mind that people who use the computer a lot tend to be isolated individuals. We are not made to be isolated in general. Isolated people tend to strike out. I am able to cope more with it by being so glad I am not embittered and to have empathy towards them.

    • Good Morning Vickie, computers, text messaging and other impersonal ways of entertaining have taken the place of playing a game, taking a walk, having a conversation with a person face to face…some days both Joe and I just shut the computers down and walk away from them. Thanks for your comment, Nancy

  3. i am often appalled at what some people say to each other via cyberspace. their venom comes out with such meanness, and it saddens me to know there are so many unhappy people in this world. another good reminder is, ‘Is it kind? Is it necessary? If not it’s best left unsaid.’

    When friends are struggling with conflict, I often ask them, “Is this about ego? If so remove the ego, and the problem usually evaporates.” Too many people have hot tempers attached to their egos…

    Thanks, Nancy. You deserve nothing but kindness, and I hope that no one has said bitter things to you!

    • Hi Z, Actually I have been blessed with almost all good comments on the blog and when I do venture to post on the Facebook EC pages. This post was brought about when I read a question on a Facebook page asking about a certain custom in Ecuador, it was an honest and open question, I did not see any hidden agenda but this poor woman was struck repeatedly by one person saying things that are totally unacceptable in my opinion…I am not looking for trouble with anyone so I stood on the sidelines, like a coward, and said nothing…It ate at me until I finally wrote this post…I can say what I like in my blog and when I see an injustice even though I was too chicken to make a comment in this persons defense I could write about it here. Nancy

    • Hi Lionel, No, as I told Z before your comment I have been blessed with folks that like what I say most of the time and have been gracious and kind in their words to me…that does not mean that some have not made constructive suggestions but almost none have made personal attacks. The world is hurting, so many issues, so many problems, all we want is a quiet place to spend the rest of our days, no big hassles, no big problems and like Z stated we do try to leave our “egos” at the door and walk in “love” instead of bitterness and hate. Nancy

  4. Well said! We could take a real lesson from the Ecuadorians! Best regards, Michael

    Sent from Michael’s iPhone

  5. Eloquently said!!! We all need to remember who we are and strive to better ourselves, and not focurs on others’ shortcomings. For me, at 71, I’m still a work in progress.

  6. Hear! Hear! Nancy! You are so right. The negativity and animosity reflected in some postings seem to be moving along with the general trend of hatefulness in the alleged civilized world today. It is sad that hate can be fostered so easily these days. Your pages are a welcome relief for those of us who appreciate the time and patience you put into sharing your everyday life in Ecuador and the “niceness” you have found there. Best to you and Joe, Liz

  7. Good Morning.

    I totally agree with your post on Finding our Paradise in Ecuador “Civility and the Internet”.

    I too have pretty much stopped going to the Expat Forums because of the sniping and bickering that is going on.

    Now that I am actually in Cuenca, Ecuador, I find that the information provided is often times tainted by one’s own experience; and the helpful information can sometimes be lost in translation.

    Anyway, just wanted to say hello and thank you for your insight.

    Sue-z Mazzera

    • Hi Sue-z, thanks for your comment. What I have said often in this blog and also when emailing folks directly is this is our experience of living in a specific area of Ecuador. Things we loved may not suit certain folks and vise versa so it is so much better to go into anything with an open mind and maybe better yet and open heart to allow all the good to just flow through you…I feel that negativity breeds negativity so in our daily lives we try very hard to be around positive people, positive situations, this makes for a more positive outlook all the way around. Enjoy your time in Cuenca it sounds like a paradise for many seeking a new life and lifestyle. Nancy

  8. Nancy, I couldn’t agree more. I joined those groups recently, in anticipation of our upcoming trip to EC and our plans to retire there as soon as we can possibly manage it. Many of the posts were so informative, with great information. However, of late, I was shocked when I read some of the comments. Being a teacher, I have seen and heard about this kind of cyber abuse going on amongst some students. Never did I imagine it would happen at all age groups.
    There is so much to be positive about, and so many wonderful words that are out there. Sometimes the same point can be made without using words that carry daggers. Or, as my Mom always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Mom wisdom is timeless.
    Thank you Nancy, for your positive outlook, and for the honesty in your writing. You don’t paint everything with rose coloured glasses, but you choose your words particularly well when describing some of the rougher aspects of life there.
    It is very much appreciated.

    • Hi Diane, thanks so much for your comments. It is hard to get past some of the hurtful things that I have read on these forums, it saddens me because everyone needs help understanding a new culture. I will be asking questions until the day I die because there is always something about this culture or its people that will be misunderstood by me. You are correct I try very hard to choose my words carefully, once said you really cannot take it back.

      thanks for reading about our little lives, “the picture is not always perfect but I try to paint it in its best light”, Nancy

  9. Well said Nancy, I enjoy reading your blog and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to San Clemente at the begining when my hubby said he would love to spend time in the area. But for the past few months, reading your blog and John mcDonalds blog I am excite to be coming there next month. I know from reading the blogs kind of what to expect when we get there. . I thank you for always painting a vivid picture of how living in that area is. I need to get with you on what you want me to bring you when we come.

    • Hi Susan, thanks for keeping up with our blog. So excited to have you come to visit, our town (s) are little but pretty friendly and I think you will enjoy your stay. John and Mary are great you will love to meet them in person as well as David (young man’s opinion) and Ken Kidd who both do blogs about our area. Email me at to let me know your travel plans and if you do have a bit of room in your luggage for some items I cannot get here and I will give you my wish list…pick what you can fit and I will be over the moon…Nancy

  10. My mother and father told me that every community has “Stinkin Thinkers”. They talk their talk and try to make other’s lives sad like theirs for a few moments. There is much good and wonderful in this community as we found out this last week. Nancy, don’t let the Stinkin Thinkers have the power to alter anything. You and Joe and all of the friends we have met through this media are a blessing we never could have had without it. So much that is good can be perverted by these people. We just got home from a long visit to Ecuador and it is now time to sleep and dream of good international friends.
    Doug & Jac

    • Doug and Jac, Happy you are home safe and sound, sorry your trip could not have been longer. I love the Stinkin Thinkers I am going to ask to steal that one because it fits some folks to a T… When you have time email or comment here on the balance of your trip would love to hear what you thought…be well Nancy

  11. Wow, I have been considering writing something about this very thing. Unfortunately it happens the world over when people can hide behind computer screens. Can you write privately to the poor woman under attack? Things like this happened to me too and it meant a lot when people sent me kind emails. I certainly understood why they didn’t want to say anything on the forum though.

    I don’t even go to the discussion groups and forums for just that reason. It upsets me too much when people behave so badly. It’s also turned me off from certain areas where I know a lot of these people live. Only recently have I started participating a bit, and of course I saw things that make me think about writing on my blog.

    I like to think I can be helpful and positive on line. It probably won’t be long before I go back to boycotting everything. I have far better things to do! How sad it must be to be one of those people full of negativity and without better things to do.

    • Kris you are so right…I want to stay on the forums because there often is a great piece of information that we would not know about unless we read it there but at what cost…Joe gets upset and that upsets me so most of the time we just give it a quick look. This one incident happened on Facebook and I don’t think I can get an email but I could send a personal message and that is what I should do. Thanks for the push, Nancy

      • Joel doesn’t get as upset as I do, so we’ve made it his job to monitor the forums. Glad you are sending a msg to the lady on Facebook. I’m sure it will lift her spirits 🙂

        • Kris, yesterday after I read your comment I went to Facebook and that thread has been removed and I honestly do not remember the ladies name, I guess I was not the only one offended by it. Thanks, Nancy
          PS I finally subscribed to your blog today and how funny for the both of us to post hammock pictures around the same time…love the look of surprise on your face..

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