Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rules For Online Dialogue

A few incidents these past couple of  days have made me think very closely about the rules I employ when I engage in dialogue online, be it on my blog, through twitter, Facebook or through my articles.

One was Tiah and Judy's response to my article yesterday. The second was a status update from a friend who's very unhappy in her job and said so. She also stated that she bunked work the previous day because she couldn't face going to the office, where her manager constantly undermines her.

Some of her (our) friends offered her words of encouragement, others empathised. Deep down, I was simply horrified because my friend was inadvertently trashing her employer in a public space while she sought sympathy for her own troubles. And to admit in a public space that you bunked work?

The third incident happened this morning. A business associate I respect very highly, and who I know has a strong respect for women had a nude pictures of a woman on his Facebook profile. (he had been tagged; it was not his upload). The note accompanying the pics gave the naked woman's name and surname, and her cell number. It said that the naked woman charges R500 for 48 hours; thus branding her a prostitute.

You might remember that Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre is one of my clients and one of the issues that they and their partners are lobbying on is the Protection From Harassment Bill ( and the strengthening of provisions that deal with technology). I wrote to my client, asking for guidance and asking if there is anything they can do to intervene.

Anyhoo, these incidents made me think about some of the rules that we set out for ourselves when we comunicate online.

So what are your rules for online dialogue? What is non-negotiable? What would you accomodate, under certain circumstances?


po said...

Hey Damaria, I'm back! I get the feeling that the "rules" on social networks are still being worked out. It sounds to me like lots of people haven't worked out their limits yet. To me, writing a status about work like that is asking for trouble. But your friend obviously feels safe and comfortable sharing that.

Damaria Senne said...

welcome back, po. I hope Brazil was good to you?
I agree that writing a status about work like that is asking for trouble. But a I see a lot of people vent their personal feelings about work online. Maybe a) they believe the employer/manager may also be on FB or Twitter and understands about being authentic online
b) they don't care about the consequences/possibility of losing a job they hate anyway.

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