A Lesson Learned: Online Behavior (and the ‘Golden Rule’)

Let’s face it…we are different online than we are in real life. For instance, it may ‘appear’ that I have things under control around here. But, then again, you haven’t seen this…

Yep. That would be our home office (which looks eerily similar to how it was this time last year). You’ll be happy to know that it has since been cleaned and semi-organized. But as you can see, I obviously don’t have it all together!

It seems that behind a computer screen, we can be anyone we want to be. Bold when we’re really softspoken, funny when we’re really timid, happy when we’re really depressed. It could be said that our online personality is who we would like to be in the real world.

But sometimes this ‘online personality’ of ours can take things a little too far. For instance, one might be tempted to type something that pops into one’s mind when one would never, in a million years, say those same words to someone’s face.

Every now and again, someone will leave a comment here or on my Facebook page that completely baffles me. I’m all for constructive criticism (done in a gentle and respectful way), but sometimes people can just be plain ol’ mean!

This is a problem. A huge problem, in fact, as more and more of our ‘interpersonal interactions’ occur behind the “safety” of a computer screen.

Think about it. How much of your day do you spend meaningfully communicating with others in real life? On the phone? Online? For most of us, we probably communicate online much more than we communicate in real life and on the phone. It’s sad, but it’s true.

A lot has changed in the last several years. We are more dependent on technology than ever. And whether or not you believe this is a good thing, it certainly presents new challenges. One of these challenges is learning how to be kind and respectful in our online interactions. And teaching our kids to do the same (when the time comes).

Luke 6: 31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Are you treating someone the way you want to be treated? This is a great question to ask ourselves all the time, but especially when we’re communicating online (whether through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or blogs).

When you get an inkling to write something snarky…Pause. Reflect. Think about the person sitting on the other side of that computer screen and how your words will affect him/her. How will it affect his/her real-life interactions with others? How would you feel if someone said typed the same thing to you?

Be respectful. Be courteous. And remember…if you don’t have something nice to say type, don’t say type it at all. ;)


  1. Well said! It’s especially true since sarcasm is SO hard to get via on-line communications, and there are no facial or vocal cues to clue you in to the emotion behind the words, whether angry or nice.

  2. I agree! I have read comments that I felt like were disrespectful to the blog owner. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and belief whether you are a commentor or a blog author. I think everyone deserves to also be respected. I agree with if you don’t have anything nice to type…! :)

  3. like like like like! I think during this time of year esp we need to keep that in mind. Out shopping is a terrible hassle, ppl tend to be so rude and pushy this time of year (in the stores-at least they are here) and all for themselves. So why not be nice to those you talk to online so that you can bless someone with a smile on their face!

  4. Couldn’t have said it better! I think 99% of arguements could be avoided if people would speak to each other instead of texting, facebooking, etc.

  5. I completely agree with the points regarding respectful communication and also appreciate the gentle reminder to not get too down on oneself for not having it all together. It is easy to feel that one’s own life is total chaos compared to what is portrayed online through blogs or Facebook.

  6. This is so, so true! I have read so many comments and posts that seem so filled with underlying bitterness or rudeness or angry or jealousy or false personality or all of the above, that I, too, have been baffled. Of course, I have read a ton of GREAT stuff, as well. Point being, I am with you and always think twice (thrice….) before I post.

  7. Well said. I love how real you are, Jenae. Your openness and honesty is what makes me love your blog and connect with you as an author, mother, and fellow child of God. Don’t get down on yourself. You have an amazing talent and great reach to many mothers who thrive on your encouraging and thought provoking posts.

  8. I agree with all of these comments & especially your post, Jenae. I too appreciate your realness & transparency. Speak the truth in love. You do that & so much more. Your blogging is a blessing.

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