One of the most repeated phrases that I see around the Kemetic community is “Don’t be a dick”, and for good reason! You can’t build solid communities if everyone is treating the other members like crap. Backbiting and infighting will lead to shaky foundations and a group that doesn’t last. However, like most things related to ethics and behaviours, it’s hard to pin down what qualifies as being dickish and what doesn’t. So for this post, I wanted to elaborate on some ways of determining whether someone is, in fact, being a dick or not and how we can use these yardsticks within the community.
The Yardstick for Dickery
It can be a challenge to tell when someone is being a dick to someone else because things like “how far is too far” are subjective in nature. What is mean to one person may be perfectly acceptable to someone else. And some people even think that warning others “hey, I am an asshole” gives them a free pass to say whatever they want because “hey, I warned you!” Because of this, I began to question if we really could determine when someone is moving into dick territory.
However, I think that I’ve figured out a place where we can start to possibly measure when you’re moving into dickish territory. I call it “The Yardstick for Dickery”, and it goes something like this:
If your behaviour is causing people to leave or withdraw from the community, then you should probably check yourself before you wreck yourself.
That is, if what you say and do is causing relatively innocent people (aka: people who aren’t racist, ableist, etc.) to leave the community, you’re being a dick. If what you say means that people are not willing to open up in front of you, or are driven to hide from you out of fear, you’re probably being a dick. If you’re saying stuff that makes other communities side-eye us and consider us all to be garbage, you’re likely being a dick.
I’ve used the yardstick and found someone who I think is being a dick. What do I do?
Each situation will require different responses, but the short answer to this is still this: Don’t be a dick. You don’t earn points for being a dick to someone else who is being a dick to you. When you drop down to their level, you open yourself up for further attack, not only by the person you’re engaging, but by others within your community. On the internet, our words are really all we have to use to define us. And if you start to act like a dick towards other dicks to try and “teach them a thing”, you end up being just as much a dick as them. Which doesn’t benefit you or anyone else. It just perpetuates the cycle.
(see the full gif-set here)
Whenever I come across someone engaging in dickish behaviour, I usually go through a few motions:
- Double check that the situation is as I think it is.
- I ensure that inserting myself into the situation will actually be beneficial.
- I respond with a cool head and constructive critique that calls out the behaviour or offers alternative dickless ways to address the situation.
- If I can’t respond with a level head, I walk away and address the situation upon return. If I still can’t respond with a level head when I return, then I don’t respond at all (or I utilize the Two Response Rule).
Ways to make sure you’re not being a dick
When you’re out there responding to people on the Internet, it can be easy to get away from yourself and start dipping your toes into the murky dickish waters. However, with a little bit of practice, it can get easier to make sure that you don’t accidentally come off in a way that you didn’t intend to. I think one of the most important questions you can ask yourself when posting things online (or having conversations in real life) is: What is the purpose of me saying this?
Figuring out why you feel compelled to say something is important. It will help you to stay focused and on task in your response/dialogue. It can also make it easier to trim out unnecessary scathing marks or possibly dickish side-notes that you might include otherwise. Having a purpose behind speaking in mind acts as a road map to help make your argument more sound and less dickish.
I’ve also seen another set of guidelines floating around the Internet that I often use before I start writing a post. Those guidelines would be:
- Does this need to be said?
- Does this need to be said by me?
- Does this need to be said by me right now?
These rules to harken up to the guidelines I listed above. Whenever you are considering writing a post, examine whether your addition will actually beneficial to what is going on. If it is something that should be addressed, figure out if you’re the best person to address it. If you can’t keep your snark to yourself, or if your point gets lost in angry words and frustrations, perhaps the post or response is better written by someone else. If you think that the response or post does need to be written, and that you could be the right guy for the job, determine if you need to respond right this second. Again, if your anger is clouding your words, or if you can’t get your point across respectfully, perhaps you need to give yourself a little time away from the situation to allow yourself more clarity in your response.
A lot of the situations where I’ve found my words pushing into dick territory have included responses that were off the cuff and perhaps not as well thought out as they could have been. I’ve found that many situations are not do or die, and that you can actually walk away from something for awhile and come back to address it later. It can be difficult to develop the skill to learn to walk away, but in the world of Internet yelling, bashing and politics, it is a necessary skill to have if you want to excel at communicating.
The last point I want to bring up with all of this dicking around is simply this: help each other out. We’re all in this together, so don’t take offense if someone lets you know that you’re kinda being a dick. It happens to all of us, and the only way we can ever address such situations is to be made aware of what we’re doing wrong. So to refer to above- if a fellow community member is being a bit of a dick, let them know! Just make sure you’re doing it respectfully. And if you get called out on being a dick, think about your actions and use the yardstick above to see if the claim is accurate. If it is, try to correct your behaviour and move on. No need to make a fuss over something all of us humans do.
Because the only way we’ll all get any better is if we actually help one another reach our highest potentials.
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