Google Glass is coming out, and the early ambassadors have their copies. They look ridiculous- the glasses and the people wearing them – but that doesn’t stop the debate over “internet civility” from wandering over to Google Glass uninvited.
Apparently, if you point out that Google Glass looks stupid and that the people publishing preening posts about their precious prizes are – well, acting silly, then you’re a hater and uncivil.
Yes, I’m over-generalizing – I hope. But I think overall on the social web a lot of people confuse the backlash over tireless, pointless hype with some kind of sub-hate speech.
It’s not. There is a line.
I’m a big fan of the fight for civility on the social web (maybe we shouldn’t call it a fight, that sounds uncivil), and I look forward to reading Andrea Weckerle’s book on the subject (I know, I’m slow to read it- just flame me in the comments and be done with it), but I fear that self-appointed guardians of being nice will tamp down good, honest dissent.
Here’s the thing: Google Glass is ridiculous.
If I point that out, I’m not jealous, I’m not a hater. I’m also not ignoring the fact that Glass represents a technology – wearable computing – that will find a way into our lives that is not intrusive, obnoxious, or glitchy. It already has, to some extent, as the Nike Plus and similar gew-gaws have already shown their use. I would have sniggered just as much as people who put Digital Audio Tape (DAT) players in their cars 20 years ago (seriously, that happened, and I did snigger), or people who lugged around 20 pound battery bricks that some joker thought to call “mobile phones.” Both represented serious advances in technology, represented by some initial products that were just plain useless.
So- here are some thoughts on the lines between hating and honest debate:
- Thicker skins please: This isn’t just about Google Glass, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there, let the negative comments and minor jabs slide. I always wonder what I would do in the face of negative comments (so far, everyone loves me, what can I say), but not every dissent is a challenge to a duel. Back off.
- Know the difference: Know the difference between disagreement and trolling. Know the difference between humor and hurt. It’s a moving line, just know where it is.
- Don’t overreact: Working with clients, this is a big key to community management. Often, severe statements are softened by patience; wrong facts are corrected in a short time. And often, back-channel civil conversations trump public spats.
- Enough navel-gazing: Actually, never mind. Go for it. I don’t care. It’s your blog.
I suppose haters are still gonna hate, but critics gotta crit too. Let ’em crit. A true civil conversation is one that lets people have at it a little, within reason.
Oh- and feel free to flame me in the comments for my poor Photoshop skills