Are you a bully?

Schoolyard bully by Thomas Ricker via Flickr.
Schoolyard bully by Thomas Ricker via Flickr.

Are you a bully online? It’s so easy to fall into bad habits when we can’t see each other’s faces. The internet can unfortunately bring out the worst in even the best of us.

Jef Rouner has written an excellent guide to help us all check our own behavior: Are you a bully online? 10 signs you might be. Perhaps if we all get into the habit of avoiding these bad habits, we can slow the angry mobs and actually start communicating.

Do please read Jef’s entire article now and often, but here are the 10 signs as a quick-glance guide:

  1. Are the people sending similar messages as me, well, assholes?
  2. Do I compete for shock value?
  3. Is the person I’m addressing a member of a marginalized group?
  4. Do I act as if sending mean messages is part of something larger?
  5. Do I join others in mass engagement of a target?
  6. Do I pretend the Internet isn’t “real?”
  7. Do I seek out personal information on people I disagree with?
  8. Do I engage people I don’t personally know aggressively if they haven’t engaged me first?
  9. Do I hide my online interactions from my family and friends?
  10. Do I create fake or temporary accounts to talk to people who have blocked me?

Even if we try our best, there will always be someone who is pushing our buttons. What can we do in the face of an online assault? Jacquelyn Gill has a creative idea to use when you find an online discussion has gotten too heated. In Let’s feed the trolls…science!, Jacquelyn advocates sharing a random science fact and using the hashtag . Sharing a random science fact is silly and could distract us from whatever is making us angry. Hopefully it can be used as a cool down and allow us a moment to decide whether to continue to engage or just block and move on. I really like this strategy – as long as we keep the 10 signs above in mind and don’t use the facts to dogpile or silence someone.

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Anastasia is Policy Director of Biology Fortified, Inc. and the Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. She has a PhD in genetics with a minor in sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Her favorite produce is artichokes! Disclaimer: Anastasia's words are her own and views expressed do not necessarily represent the views of her employer. She is not paid to blog or conduct any social media activities. Mention of a company or product does not indicate endorsement.

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