How Not to Offend Anyone Online

Always approach others with care. There could be prickly consequences.
Always approach others with care. There could be prickly consequences.
An easy-going, placid kind-of guy
An easy-going, placid kind-of guy | Source
Lightning and a rainbow can exist in harmony. There is no need for conflict.
Lightning and a rainbow can exist in harmony. There is no need for conflict.

Online Writing is Open to Misinterpretation

With the Internet and social media being the fastest growing communication tool on the planet it is inevitable that at some stage something you write or post online will upset or offend someone else, or God forbid, even a large group of people.

I consider myself to be a very easy going and placid person in real life. I don't like conflict and will usually go out of my way to avoid it or try to be an calming intermediary if it involves others. That being said, even I have to think carefully and consider all contexts in which my writing may be interpreted before I hit the enter key.

In about 15 years writing online, and almost six of those on Hub Pages I thankfully admit that I have only offended others (that I am aware of) on a handful of occasions. Believe me, none of these was intentional either. The main problem in communicating in writing on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as forums, chat rooms, comments etc. is that the recipients or readers have no way of gauging the intonation behind your words or of interpreting your body language. For this reason you have to think carefully about any possible misinterpretation before posting your text.

A person's mood when reading your text will often determine how they interpret it, and whether they find it funny, positive, or degrading and offensive. Cultural, racial and even gender differences can determine how another person reads and processes what you write as well. So, please beware, a seemingly innocent remark can get you into all sorts of hot water.

I dedicate this hub to anyone I have upset or offended online. Please accept my sincere apologies.

If you read something that upsets you, before you reply, think of your happy place or if you can, go there. Count to 10, take a few deep breaths, then re-read what upset you. It may see things differently.
If you read something that upsets you, before you reply, think of your happy place or if you can, go there. Count to 10, take a few deep breaths, then re-read what upset you. It may see things differently.

10 Ways to Avoid Being Misunderstood Online

  1. Only communicate using Video Chat, Skype, or FaceTime. This way the other party can read your expressions, intonation, and body language to help them interpret what you are saying.
  2. Carefully re-read everything you write, considering all possible interpretations and negative responses. Don't jump to conclusions yourself when reading what others have written.
  3. Don't enter into discussions or forums on controversial topics such as Climate Change, Religion, or Politics, or anything that you can't discuss objectively.
  4. Don't engage "obvious" trolls in discussion. You will never win these arguments, and if you get agitated or angry they are just succeeding in what they set out to do.
  5. Never leave negative comments on other people's hubs or blog posts. If you can't say something positive, it's best to say nothing at all.
  6. If you really feel strongly about an issue and are compelled to enter a discussion on a topic of which there are strongly conflicting views, make sure you are armed with solid facts and statistics to back up your point of view.
  7. Never reply to a post or comment with the sole purpose of provoking an argument or denigrating the other opinion. Don't be a troll yourself!
  8. Don't say more than you need to. Often trying to be too verbose will eventually result in you putting your foot in your mouth and subsequently offending.
  9. Don't pretend to be an expert in fields where you are not knowledgeable or educated. If you find out you have said something wrong or incorrect..for God's sake.. APOLOGISE!
  10. Be nice. Treat everyone else amiably and with respect and chances are they will treat you the same way.

Just relax, think peace and tranquility
Just relax, think peace and tranquility

While Writing Online..

Have you ever ..?

  • Unintentionally offended another person or group
  • Been offended by another person's post and ended up in a heated argument
  • Misinterpretted someone else's post, and been forced to apologise afterwards
  • I am a troll and deliberately seek out a good argument
  • No, I am always careful to never offend or take offence
See results without voting

Losing Touch by Blake Duffin

W.W.Walk the Talk (a short poem)

by John Hansen © 2015


Online communication

A marvel of our time,

Transcending the world

Like a famous nursery rhyme.


Voice your strong opinions,

Free speech is your right,

But please don't be a bully

Or a troll in the night.


Google, Facebook,Twitter,

News feed on the run,

Plus, like, share, or tweet,

Chat and have some fun.


But be careful what you type,

It's easy to offend.

Re-read everything you write,

Think before you send.

Try to see the beauty in everything, including what others write
Try to see the beauty in everything, including what others write

Parting Thoughts

As I said earlier, you should try not to jump to conclusions. It is so easy to do this even when chatting to someone face to face in real life. So just imagine how easy it is when you are communicating just through written words online. Always take your time and don't just dive in to a quick reply, especially if you are upset. Count to ten, take a few deep breaths, and if you have to even walk away for a few minutes.

Try to clear your mind of the angy or distressing thoughts and replace them with something pleasant. When you feel more relaxed, return and read the text again. You may be pleasantly surprised that it wasn't so offensive as you first thought. If you had already replied in anger and now realise your mistake, please swallow your pride and admit that you were too quick to judge. It's always better to make friends than enemies. You never know when you'll need them :)

© 2015 John Hansen

More by this Author


105 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 13 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Well there I was writing and publishing an article that will be offensive to some and here you are helpfully showing the error of my ways. You have deeply offended me. LoL. At one time I thought it was just too time consuming and not worth it to consider and try not to offend. Now I find it time well spent in learning other points of view. I think I shall bookmark this and keep it as a constant reminder. Great work here, thank you.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

No problem Eric, sorry to rain on your parade. Your articles may sometimes be confronting (and that's good) but I never find them offensive. Thanks for being the first to read and comment.


alex35aclll profile image

alex35aclll 13 months ago from United Kingdom

Very Interesting article, and well written. I must agree with most of it, but some things are not correct for me..


wiserworld profile image

wiserworld 13 months ago

Nice tips Jodah. I thought this was a unique hub with some things any writer or blogger should remind themselves of before publishing anything online.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 13 months ago from Shelton

hmm, yeah I offended a lot of folks coming up mostly in this generation where I feel they're more sensitive.. but i live and learn.. hey I voted for you as best poet.. sorry :( but you did get beat out by Audrey who is very good ... but I still think you're number one


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 13 months ago from United States

Excellent work here my friend and great photos. Well done. whonu


billybuc profile image

billybuc 13 months ago from Olympia, WA

It's happened to all of us, right? I think the only way to definitely not offend online is to not be online. :) But your suggestions are definitely helpful, John.


Sandro S profile image

Sandro S 13 months ago from Hasselt, Limburg, Belgium

I wish more people were as level-headed and respectful as you. Sadly, a lot of people get upset really easily and not even only online, but IRL too. Although for some reason, people can be offensive more easily online, which seems counterintuitive, because online you have the option to check and edit what you're saying.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Alex, I appreciating you taking the time to read this hub and comment. Please let me know the things that you don't agree with.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hello wiserworld. Good to see a new face commenting on one of my hubs. Thanks for the kind words.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Frank, yes times are hanging and people are easier to offend these days. Thanks for the vote for "best poet" but you can't have the same people winning every year when there are so many good poets here. Audrey was very deserving.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you whonu, much appreciated. Blessings.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

You are right Bill, it is almost impossible to never offend anyone. It still i a litte upsetting when it happens unintentionally.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for the insightful ans generous comment Sandro. You are right that people don't have a reason to be offensive online more than IRL due to the option of being able to check and edit. Take care.


Smilealot 13 months ago

A very relevant hub for today's world of immense non-face to face online communication. As you quite rightly say, it is all too easy to misinterpret what someone has written. Great hub :-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Smilealot, thanks for confirming my observations and for the kind comment.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Lots of wisdom offered her. I especially liked no. 5 above. Now, I'll sit and ponder what prompted this hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Mike. I generally try to keep out of the forums unless someone I follow begins a thread. I joined in a discussion about the Hubbie Awards and made a comment that was taken out of context..everything I said after that seemed to make it worse. I've learnt to be more careful in future.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Thanks. I avoid the forums it is so often used for a place to discuss questions without answers.


m abdullah javed profile image

m abdullah javed 13 months ago

You were quite honest in dealing with a delicate subject of which all of us are a part and we have faced criticism directly or indirectly. I must say that your sincere apologies reflect an objective approach of yours rather considering it as an offended one. As you said the online contents are always open for criticism, there should be a mechanism for check and balance so as to ensure a two way beneficiaries comprises of both critics and the writers. The tips at the end are quite impressive Jodah. Thanks for sharing.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 13 months ago from Arkansas

A very sweet article, John, but it’s a little milquetoast for me, no offense intended. LOL I was trained as a reporter, and I think that sensitivity training got lost somewhere. Seriously, I’ve been on the other end and know how it feels. A hub writer that I respected and followed made the crackpot statement in a hub that had nothing to do with the subject that she didn’t like Southerners (in the USA) and was almost afraid of them. Needless to say, I lost respect and admiration for her, so I understand what you are saying. On the other hand, inexperienced writers ask for our help, and then get offended when we experienced ones give it. So what’s a body to do?


Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 13 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Words of wisdom my friend - I truly enjoyed this hub. It's a must read for anyone who takes their writing very seriously- definitely sharing.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 13 months ago from Southern Illinois

I know better but I continue praising Hillary Clinton, and I get a few remarks that are unfriendly. Will I stop? Probably not. We must stand up for something when we feel strongly about anyone or anything. By putting Jo Cocker on your hub I forgive you. ( I can't think of anything I need to forgive you for. ) lol. Great advice John! I stay away from the forums after learning my lesson. Most do not like poetry. Go figure?


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 13 months ago from southern USA

Wonderful article, John, and you are truly an easy going guy no doubt! This is a timely hub : ) ... The word "decorum" comes to my mind in these matters. My sweet mother taught us if we have nothing nice to say then say nothing at all. However, no disrespect to my dear mother, there are times when we must stand up for our beliefs come what may as we are passionate about them, regardless if they are bound to be those who disagree. That old saying comes to mind, "If we stand for nothing, we will fall for anything." I am not for censorship of any kind unless it harms another.

Having stated that, however, there is a proper way to make a comment without offending that lends itself useful to the discussion. A lot of times, we tend to make a comment without any harm intended but then in an afterthought realize it could have very well unintentionally belittled or harmed another, even if in some small way. As you point out here, it is always best to apologize regardless if there was any intent to cause harm.

I was not offended in any way in your jesting on the forum, please know, however, I wanted to make an attempt to point out that there are those who will win in certain categories, and because of the jesting going on, may (or may not) feel slighted or belittled, even if unintentional. I am one to always jump in for the underdog it seems, and I hope my comments in defense of those not there did not offend anyone either, especially you. I tried my best to use decorum in my responses, but if I failed I apologize as well.

On another note, I voted for your Masterpiece hub as most beautiful (for it was full of community spirit, and the collaboration of all who participated produced one beautiful hub) and you as Best Community Activist in rallying the community in other areas too. I know my good friend, Jackie, won and I am happy for her, although I voted for her in another category. It's all good though.

Peace and blessings always ... and please never change from your easy going self, as that is what endears us all to you and your beautiful poetry.

(Oh, your wife's drawing of you is awesome. Oops, you have "An easy gong" guy underneath though.)

Hugs ... and I know you publishing this is not meant to indirectly harm me in any way.


Carb Diva profile image

Carb Diva 13 months ago

Very well stated, well organized, and I loved your photos.


ecogranny profile image

ecogranny 13 months ago from San Francisco

It is tough communicating clearly and succinctly on line, always keeping in mind the myriad ways anything might be interpreted. Thank you for excellent suggestions.


clivewilliams profile image

clivewilliams 13 months ago from Nibiru

people are just too touchy online. They need to live a little


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 13 months ago from southern USA

John is a sensitive guy, Clive, and there's nothing wrong with that : )


drbj profile image

drbj 13 months ago from south Florida

I love your line, Jodah: 'It's easy to offend ... think before you send.'

I could add: 'If opprobrium you feel, try to conceal your zeal.' But I won't. :)


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 13 months ago from Los Angeles

Great suggestions, John! I would hope that we here are HP would not do so deliberately. “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. When we consider that this was written by an English monk and poet from the 14th century, we can see that this is a common issue of humanity:)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Faith, I have a lot of comments to answer here but I thought it only proper that I reply to you first. I admire your stand in sticking up for the little guy when you see a possible injustice (I do the same). In fact I was embarrassed when I re-read what I had posted in the forum and that you rightly pointed out how it could come across to anyone who was selected in those certain categories. This hub is more a wake up call to myself (certainly not meant to harm or embarrass you). In fact that was not the only incident I am referring to here. I felt that if this happens to me it can happen to anyone, and was a good subject for a hub and hopefully offer helpful advice as well. Thank you for you kind comments about my hub and my wife's drawing as well as voting for me in those categories. It seems my problem was that people voted for me in a number of different categories so my votes were spread around :) I seem to have moved away from the poetry niche now .. that's not a worry though, I am just humbled that people did vote for me. Peace and blessings, and continue sticking up for the little guy.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Javed, thank you for that kind and insightful comment. I did try to be objective here glad it came over that way.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Dana, thanks for the kind comment and share. Blessings.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ruby, thanks for for forgiving me (whatever for). I need to include Joe Cocker more often :) you are welcome to support Hillary if you want, I'm sure you are not her only supporter, but remember my advice..don't write about religion, politics or climate change. Yes, some people don't like poetry..can you believe it?


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you so much Carb Diva.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading and commenting eco granny.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I agree with what you say Clive, but we still have to take some care with what we write so not to offend too many.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Faith :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

I like your line drbj, wish I had thought of it..thanks.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for sharing that cat. What a wise monk he was. I don't think there are too many people here who go out of their way to upset others...but there are a few everywhere.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean

Great article, Jodah. I try hard not to offend, but in response to a comment on an HP article, another reader (not the writer) seemed offended and stopped short of calling me a fool. So now, I try even harder. Thanks for your wise counsel on this matter.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi MsDora, even the most innocent statement can sometimes be taken the wrong way. Sorry to hear about your experience..I guess we have all been through it and just need to be aware. Thanks for your kind comment.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 13 months ago from USA

The autocorrect feature sure doesn't help. You can type one thing and if you're not careful the word can be entirely changed to something else. Sometimes it's a nonsense word and sometimes it makes you seem just mean. Yes, re-read.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 13 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Oh yes Flourish. I never thought about auto correct but it does play a big part. I hate it especially with my iPad. I seem to be having to change back almost ever second word and having to re-read constantly. Good points.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 12 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

It's a nice thought, John, but I offend folks by existing.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thats hard to believe Will. If you are like the heroes in your stories you would be everyone's friend.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 12 months ago from Central Florida

Great advice, John. I think we've all been on the end of both sides of the stick and unintentionally so. Without hearing inflections, it's very easy to misinterpret the written word, especially when the topic is controversial or personal. I try to be cognizant of how I may come across to some, but it doesn't always work out that way. Some people just want to argue and/or accuse. I try to steer clear of negative nellies. However, I'll admit I've had to apologize for my words more than once in my nearly six decades on this planet. I try not to be offensive, but sometimes the tongue has its own agenda. For the most part though, I think I've got that wicked tongue under wraps.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you Shauna. I am glad I am not the only one that has to watch their tongue when writing online. I too have been on both sides. Sometimes you just have to stand up for your beliefs even if they offend someone. Thank you for the confirmation.


DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 12 months ago

Your writings are filled with knowledge and power. Thank you for all the wonderful topics you cover. I will think twice before I hit send. Congratulations on your anniversary. May you have an extraordinary day!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for the Anniversary wishes Dream On. Glad you found this information helpful an enjoy my other writing too. Have a great day yourself.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 12 months ago from Long Island, NY

Excellent advice John.

There are certain topics I refrain from getting into online just because I realize how easy it is to misunderstand one's comments without the full communication available with body language in a face to face discussion.

I don't avoid the same topics in live conversation with friends and even associates, and it works well under those conditions even when there are disagreements.

The thing is that in a live conversation, people can explain themselves better when they see the expression on the other person's face indicating they may be missing the meaning behind the statement. When the same things happens online, and without the realtime visual feedback, a little misunderstanding can escalate into a major issue.

By the way, nice poem at the end, too.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Glenn, it's an honor to have the recipient of the "Lifetime Achievement Hubbie Award" reading my hubs :) thanks for the insightful comment and confirming my advice as well as saying that body language works both ways. Much appreciated. Glad you liked the poem too.


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 12 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Your article has left us all with very useful information and common sense. I liked your poem. I think sometimes people do not think when they write something. Misinterpretation can also be another big factor. Great Hub,


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi ladyguitarpicker, I am happy to hear that you found this hub useful with good advice for all. We need to think before we write anything. Thanks for reading.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 12 months ago from Florida

Yes, this subject has come up in conversation a few times with friends who have taken my words in the wrong way. I think it is hard, because even I take things wrong. Great tips on how not to be caught up in that, but I'm not really sure it's something we can totally avoid. By all means, yes, give it our best try, but our best try may not always work. :(

Great Hub! :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Missy, I agree that I don't think it is possible to guarantee you won't offend someone at some stage, we just have to try our best to avoid it. I have said a couple of things recently that inadvertently offended and In hindsight I would have said differently. You live and learn. Thanks for the great comment.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 12 months ago from Florida

Yes, indeed we live and learn. I think all our words have misrepresented us at one time or the other.

Hey, did you win a hubbie this year? I voted for you on several categories, for sure best poet.

I also noticed you just had an anniversary. Happy Belated Anniversary to you and your wife. :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

No Missy, this wasn't my year. Previously I concentrated on mainly writing poetry..hence last year's "Best Poet" award, but this year I diversified a lot into short fiction, non-fiction essays, joke hubs and challenges. I think that diversity spread my votes over too many different categories. A number of hubbers said they voted for me but for different awards :) interesting to see what happens next year. The way your hubs are gaining popularity I think you will be in the running as well. Thanks for voting for me by the way, and for the congratulations on my Anniversary. We had a great day.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 12 months ago from Victoria, Australia

To not offend and to avoid being offended can be difficult. An interesting hub and I just love those images.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Blossom, you're right. It's certainly not always easy.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 12 months ago from Oklahoma

Wonderfully written.

I just want to point out that it is good to offend people sometimes and to be offended. Sometimes we get so used to getting what we want, we lose track of this. Things that are offensive, often end up facilitating growth and tolerance in the end.

We should feel people out first when possible though, and always maintain at least some sensitivity to the beliefs of others.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good points Larry, we need constructive debate otherwise there will never be any progress, growth etc. and it is impossible to go through life without offending someone. I just feel that we shouldn't deliberately provoke a potential heated argument., and as you say, try to feel people out first. Thanks for reading.


DDE profile image

DDE 12 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

A well put together hub. Sometimes people say things they don't mean but should actually think carefully before putting it all out there.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Yes Devika, you are so right. It is too easy to say thing you don't mean, so you really have to re-read whatever you write before posting. Thanks for commenting.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 12 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

What a thoughtful hub, timely John. I can't imagine you being offensive to anyone. But we need to remind ourselves when communicating that others cannot see us or interpret our feelings or intent through the typed word. I detest confrontation or conflict. (The only exception is when it comes to defending/protecting someone I love. Then, all bets are off, so to speak. :-)

"Don't pretend to be an expert in fields where you are not knowledgeable or educated. If you find out you have said something wrong or incorrect..for God's sake.. APOLOGISE!"

Absolutely. All one needs to "say," is, "I'm sorry, that was my mistake." It's amazing how many people can't seem to admit when they are wrong, or apologize; it seems to be a growing epidemic of sorts these days.

And I loved the inclusion of one of my favorites, Joe Cocker (RIP)


Genna East profile image

Genna East 12 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Oops -- I meant to type: "What a thoughtful, timely hub, John," but my comment got away from me before I could edit it. Sorry about that. (Now see...that wasn't so hard .:-)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading another of my hubs Genna and for your kind and insightful comment. Yes it's funny how the most difficult words for a lot of people is "I'm sorry." It takes a big person to admit they were wrong, but sometimes you have to swallow your pride. Joe Cocker was one of my favourites too. Cheers.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

:) thanks


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 12 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

You made such a good point here. I just NEVER enter into discussions on controversial topics , all I sometimes do is expressing an idea through an image.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

That is probably a very wise thing to do Nadine. An image is much less likely to offend the same way as words.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

John

Superb hub and ouch! Yes I know I've offended people here at times, I haven't meant to but it's happened.

I've tried to apologize but not every apology is going to be accepted, it all depends on the space the offended party is in (and whether we should have said things in the first place!)

You had a list of things not to write about, sadly for me they include three of the four things that really interest me, I want tk get my worldview challenged! I want to try and understand the 'other side' and I want logic in the discussion! Does that sound wrong?

One thing I would say is be careful what you write.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Lawrence, you are right that it is difficult if one of those subjects on my list is where your interest or expertise lies. I think the way you write about these things is the key. You always include well researched facts in your hubs and offer a very subjective view that I find doesn't come across as confrontational. I doubt I could. It's all in how you say it, not what you say. Cheers.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

John.

Thanks for that. I still need reminding though to be careful how things are written.

Lawrence


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 12 months ago

need of the hour


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thank you for reading Sujaya


Jennifer Mugrage profile image

Jennifer Mugrage 12 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

Awesome article, thanks for the commonsense advice.

When I first saw your title, I thought the Hub might turn out to be very short, consisting of these words, "Don't write anything online."

It seems that in order to offend, all you need to do is simply make some kind of generalization. About - anything.

This is a real quandry for me. I love to write, and because of my life circumstances, online writing seems to offer my best chance of doing so. But. After reading So You've Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson, I have to seriously consider whether writing online might not be worth the risk. His book is full of stories of people for whom a few ill-chosen words, which happened to be publicized widely, ruined their reputation, lost them their jobs, and just generally crushed them.

The odds of that happening are small, because so many people write online. But - it could happen to anyone. Something to think about.

Great Hub.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for your kind and interesting comment Jennifer. I haven't read that book by Jon Ronson, but maybe I should. Maybe it depends on if you already have a good reputation.. I'm still trying to get one :)

Hang in there and keep writing online..life is full of risks.


David Trujillo profile image

David Trujillo 12 months ago from Medellin, Colombia

Oh, reminds me when I offended a very Christian woman in Bubblews. She wrote a post about the different meanings of the word "Johnson".

Just for fun I left in the comments "and what about Big Johnson?"

She threaten to complain and ban me from the site. It was like getting a law order to stay 30ft away from her profile and posts.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

haha...that is kind of funny David but a good example of what I was getting at.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

haha...that is kind of funny David but a good example of what I was getting at.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

haha...that is kind of funny David but a good example of what I was getting at.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

haha...that is kind of funny David but a good example of what I was getting at.


Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 12 months ago from Florida

Hey Jodah, I came here to read some more comments since I'm following this hub, and I caught my own comment again. I made it before my online fiasco the other day. I had to giggle a little, because I think that I was spot on with the comment I made here. lol... This is such an important hub to read!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Isn't it funny how that happens Missy. You read something and comment on it.. the next thing that very thing happens to you. It's like a strange unknown force (or God) directed you to read this hub as a warning of what was to come.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 12 months ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Good tips, Jodah. I especially like number 6. Knowledge gives us the edge.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good to see you Rebecca. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I agree number 6 is an important one that a lot of people don't ensure.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Good to see you Rebecca. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I agree number 6 is an important one that a lot of people don't ensure.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

John

I just had to go check out number six but I would say even with the facts try to allow for the other person seeing it another way!

Lawrence

Example the glass may be half full or even half empty but its the same glass we see!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

That's true to Lawrence...half full or empty just means you need a smaller glass.


Jennifer Mugrage profile image

Jennifer Mugrage 12 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

Jodah ... I do HIGHLY recommend the book So You've Been Publicly Shamed. It's very readable, and I think it's an excellent warning for us all ... both about what could happen to us if we're not careful, and also so that we avoid joining in ruining other people via a social-media pile-on.

You have a good reputation with this reader. But, if you mean that shaming is only a danger for those who are already famous, unfortunately that's not true. Some of the folks in that book were not public figures before they became instantly known nationwide (or even worldwide) for some foolish thing they said.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Jennifer, thanks for reading and commenting. That does sound like a great book you recommend. I will check it out.

Sorry, I don't understand where I said anywhere that "shaming is only a danger for those who are already famous" or anything to that effect. Please point it out to me if I did, because I agree that would be totally wrong.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Hi Jennifer, thanks for reading and commenting. That does sound like a great book you recommend. I will check it out.

Sorry, I don't understand where I said anywhere that "shaming is only a danger for those who are already famous" or anything to that effect. Please point it out to me if I did, because I agree that would be totally wrong.


Jennifer Mugrage profile image

Jennifer Mugrage 12 months ago from Columbus, Ohio

Gee whiz, now I'M involved in an online misunderstanding! (Embarrassed sigh)

No, you did not say online shaming was only a danger for those already famous. I was referring to your joke, "Maybe it depends on if you already have a good reputation - I'm still trying to get one. ;-)" That sounded to me like reputation loss can only damage you if you have a brand built up ... but I know it was mostly just a joke. So sorry ... I do tend to over-analyze sometimes ...


Jodah profile image

Jodah 12 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Ah ok, now I get it :) yes it was just a joke. No harm done....I guess this misunderstanding proves the point of my hub though, so that's good.


savvydating profile image

savvydating 11 months ago

You are right, Jodah. I've done most of the bad things you listed, except deliberately being a troll. I'm learning to keep my lips zipped better than before----but once in awhile, I still feel outraged by the desensitization that happens as a result of internet garbage. Some of the questions our "valued" hubbers ask are just too awful. It's like, get a life or get real. Sheesh! Nevertheless, your hub is excellent and I will "do better."

Thank you for reminding us to have manners and to follow the Golden Rule, so to speak.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 11 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading this savvydating. I know where you coming from with your comment about the "Internet garbage", and"questions" here at Hub Pages. They often make me cringe. I was told that you actually get paid for asking questions (don't know how that works) and it would explain why the quality often is questionable. I notice one particular person that seems to ask multiple questions but never seems to reply to any of the answers. It is impossible to never offend anyone, we just need to try not to provoke deliberately.


annart profile image

annart 11 months ago from SW England

Superb advice here, John. It's always good to be tolerant, polite and well-mannered, wherever we are. The problem, as you say, is that we can't hear or see any of the intonation and body language and that's at least 50% of communication.

Many a time I've re-written something because I've thought, 'no, that can be taken the wrong way' but still I've managed, just once I think, to offend someone. That person took things completely the wrong way but when I re-read my words I could sort of see why; I apologised but damage was done.

You've summed it all up well in your poem. Sharing this in the hope that it'll reach as many people as possible.

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 11 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

It's you again Ann? :) I don't mind at al, in fact I am honoured as I don't think I have had anyone read as many of my hubs one after the other before. I felt guilty for unintentionally upsetting one of my friends here at HP so I wrote this hub. When I reread what I had written I could see where I was wrong and even when I tried to put it right I just kept putting my foot in my mouth. All good now though. Now I take more care so it was a learning experience for me. Thank you for sharing your own experience and also this hub.


annart profile image

annart 11 months ago from SW England

Yes, I turn up like a bad penny all over the place! :) You're welcome.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 11 months ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Hi Jodah - Thanks for sharing this article about behavior when folks cannot see you. I have mostly encountered problems when texting but not too many times. I am careful what I say. You are very kind when you write and don't offend persons. The problem is usually the other person who may take offense to anything we say or act like a troll. Glad you wrote this for all to see and remind themselves of appropriate language. Blessings, Audrey


Jodah profile image

Jodah 11 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks Audrey, I do try my best to be polite and kind in my writing but no one is perfect. Glad you found value in this article. Blessings back.


Farawaytree profile image

Farawaytree 11 months ago from California

Just read this! Good one. Yes, some of us are blessed with the gift of worrying about offending others in everything we do. Myself included. It's a fine line between voicing your passionate opinion, being bombastic, and being considerate of everyone's feelings. Tough. :)


Jodah profile image

Jodah 11 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

thanks for finding and reading this hub, Farawaytree. You are right it is a very fine line we have to walk so as to voice our opinion and at the same time not offend others...'tough" without doubt.


Stephen Kalu profile image

Stephen Kalu 9 months ago from Nigeria

good piece. But i also know that no matter how good you try to be in life and online, people must be offended.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 9 months ago from Queensland Australia Author

Thanks for reading this Stephen. Yes no matter how careful you are and how hard you try there is always someone out there who will be offended. Hell, there are people who delight in taking offence and deliberately seek to read articles and posts and watch tv shows etc that they know will offend them just so they can argue and protest.

You just have to be careful how you respond to these people and be careful not to engage them in debate more than you have to. That just fuels their fire.

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