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An Idiot’s Guide to Online Etiquette

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I read a lot of blogs. Some may say too many – but I try not to listen to them mostly because they sound like people who enjoy bike rides in the park and my only interaction with nature is my rolling hills screensaver. So, as someone who spends too much time in artificial light with my increasingly near sighted eyes glued to a computer screen, I know a little something about comment wars.

It always starts so suddenly.  There are a few comments, mostly positive, sometimes neutral and then out of nowhere you get that one voice of dissent. My problem is not with opposition. Sometimes, here on TC we talk about things that are controversial. We’re happy to do this. It’s one of the major reasons Tamilculture was even started- to become a platform for the many different voices in the Tamil community worldwide and opposition is a natural part of that.

But, like so many things in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

Do: Rationally think the author’s or another commenter’s position through before you post a response. Take the time to analyze why this person may have a different take on things, and what brought them to that conclusion.

Don’t: Arbitrarily choose a random piece of the article that irks you and zero in on it. Don’t like the title? Let the world know! Font a little too bold? Use caps lock and make sure the person knows how they are letting the entire community down!

Do: Understand that we are individuals comprised of different experiences, perspectives and personalities.  That sometimes disagreement is good because it shows us the diversity that exists within the human race.  Being able to disagree in a healthy way on the Internet teaches us how to disagree with others in real life.  Realize that this is a skill that is crucial to navigating the rich diversity of the Tamil culture and life in general.

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Don’t: Take your own personal experience as a universal truth. Assume that if someone doesn’t agree with you they are out to destroy the entire community. Conclude that if someone believes in something that you don’t that they hate Tamil people. And kittens.

Do: Appreciate how hard it can be to write. This author is putting themselves out there in a personal and brave way. That takes a lot of courage, especially when the topic is difficult or controversial. Take a moment to understand that writing is difficult and being judged for it is even more so. Even if the opinion may be one that you disagree with, respect the author’s attempt to shed some light, or offer a new perspective on an issue.

Don’t: If someone has a different opinion, ask, nay tell them to make you tea! This is especially true if the dissenter is a woman.

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The Tamil culture is constantly evolving and conflicting opinions are a result of that process. Healthy debates and discussion help us all become better and respect is a key part of that. So, let’s play nice.


Author

Suruthi is a born and bred Scarberian. She is often seen wandering the streets of Toronto with her headphones on, completely oblivious to the world around her. Suruthi is a lover of feminist literature, complex carbohydrates and copious amounts of eyeliner.

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Suruthi Ragulan

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