Tips for Navigating Online Communities
A lot of my life is online, and has been for the last few years. When you spend a lot of time in online communities, or "fandoms," you see a lot of different kinds of people. Sometimes, you meet amazing people who become lifelong friends. Sometimes, you meet people who are less than favorable. It can be hard to tell these people apart, especially for younger web-surfers who don't have as much experience telling the good from the bad. As such, I wrote a short list earlier this year of tips for those who need them. Specifically it was for those in a community of content creators, but it works for other communities too.
Never judge a poster's personality by their content alone. It is incredibly easy for someone to fake a personality online, especially with the power of editing. Watch their interactions and talk to people that have worked to them if you wanna know what they're like.
Never give a creator blind praise. If they are only told their content is good, they'll never see a reason to improve and may become narcissistic, selfish and start shutting out negative critique. Be constructive in your responses, praise the good but also point out the bad, and offer suggestions. But be respectful, posting "your work is terrible you should be like this person" is rude and entitled.
Don't believe something blindly. Again, lying online is easy. Check facts. Look at sources on both sides of an argument. Don't believe one person and look to their friends for confirmation, look to someone else to avoid bias.
Avoid mob mentality. You are not only allowed to have your own opinion, you are encouraged to. Speak against the crowd if you disagree, but also don't be afraid to speak your mind if you have the popular opinion too. Just know that the group doesn't define your likes and dislikes, you do. Don't be afraid to dig your heels into the ground and resist the flow.
Don't hang around toxic people. If someone is causing you problems, or you don't want to be around them, block them and stay away. If they want to attack you, let your actions and those around you do the talking when confronted. In many cases fighting back can make a matter worse, sometimes it's best just to walk away and let someone throw a tantrum.
Be respectful. Everyone can have their own opinion, and everyone is there to have fun, enjoying both making and consuming content. Don't start drama, don't attack anyone, lend a hand when and where you can. A community can be made or broken by those involved, so let yourself be a light of kindness when people around you may not be. Feed the good, not the bad.