Every day it seems that there are reasons someone could choose to take offense on social media sites. People can post perceived offensive language or offensive topics, stir up arguments, or monopolize conversations. It seems that any of these are examples of disrespect of readers or group participants.

Is the use of profanity respectful?

There is one very well-known aggregator of social media which chose just recently to use a word which is commonly considered profane in the subject line and body of a post by a moderator. The word is not one which most parents would be pleased to hear their child or teenager express and usually implies that a least one person is somehow related to a member of the animal kingdom.  It seemed a little unusual for a professional site to use such a term.

Certainly the person to which that term referred can be expected to potentially take offense, as can others with linguistic sensitivities. It seems only a matter of time before the spoken word of that ilk that we often hear in news, films, recordings, and television broadcasts might be common in the written professional word. However, is that something that those of us who blog, read, publish, or correspond really want to promote?

Is posting an idea or topic which could be construed as offensive respectful?

Someone offered a product for sale yesterday in the amount of $9.11 on a particular group. Some individuals are particularly sensitive to the date of September 11; i.e. 911 as you might understand if you followed the events in the United States. Let us assume for this purpose that the posting of an item for sale was acceptable on that forum or group. Should that individual have offered that item at that sale price on that day?  What if a percentage of sales was targeted for survivors—does that change your opinion? Was that tasteful or appropriate? Was it respectful to others? Should people be precluded from bidding that amount on one of the auction forums? Should people be precluded from discussion about whether the news reports have been trustworthy in their reporting of the 911 events? What about the concept of free speech?

In this case, the individual might have understood the significance of that number and chose to market a product using that well- known number as a dollar amount , but it is possible that others might not. It seems that a short note from the moderator off-line to the poster could have handled the matter and had a good conclusion. Should the moderator intercede at all to protect those with thin skins? But, stay tuned below:

Is continuing an argumentative thread for a whole day respectful?

A conversation erupted from that single post about the sale amount and the veracity of the news reports surrounding the event and evolved into a series of postings with attacking personal language and continuous restatement of previous positions and arguments? We may decide to sit on the sidelines and just not contribute to a heated discussion. Even if you agreed with one or the other individuals, did you just wish that they would stop and turn off his or her computer? What if one of the people in this endless cycle was a moderator of the group?  What happened to the gentlemanly way of agreeing to disagree and ending it after a post or two? Did you ever wish that you could somehow just carve a particular thread out of what gets blasted to you?

We have all experienced continuous threads that seem to have their own life spans. Sometimes, it seems that someone just has to win—just has to be right—just has to have the last word—just have to have the last bragging or argument rights. Would it be wonderful if on these groups, we could have an immediate poll and vote on whether to let a thread continue to flourish on the group?

When we post, we should be cognizant of the power of our words and the effect that those words may have on others. Be judicious, clear, and concise in posting with an effort to present material in a way to mitigate some of the claims of offensive material. Don’t monopolize group postings or be repetitive. Treat others with the respect you want and expect reciprocity.  Step up to the plate and be the role model.

What is your buzz about?