The internet’s social sphere is a high school hallway filled with lockers. Just like in high school, you walk the halls and see faces you recognize and others give you pause, “She goes here? Wahh?” You observe people frantically trying to remember combinations and then busting into lockers and opening the doors wide. You see some doors slamming shut quickly, so as not to expose the contents within. Some doors are all tagged up with bumper stickers and photos. Others are bare, ain’t nobody got time to decorate. The hallway is big enough but its population is dense. Sometimes it’s Darwinian; the meek and the small can easily get shoved around. You’re best served if you know your destination and seek it out with laser focus, rather than get jammed up by some middle-of-the-hallway conversation that’s going to keep you from getting to class on time.
I’ve been a member of several online forums, am active in social media and have maintained this blog for over ten years now. All of these experiences have exposed me to some recognizable behaviors. I’m tempted to say it has exposed me to certain types of people. But the unique aspect of online communication is that there are no people. There are only the marks of people: their writings, their photographs, sometimes their facades. I have observed a pattern of certain behaviors that emerge. I wonder if you’ve observed them, too.
I. Howling like a Coyote
– the tendency to howl loudly with high pitch that HEY, I’M HERE. HEAR ME HOWL?
Marks of coyote behavior: update Twitter, Facebook to indicate exceedingly amazing things happening in their own domain; Instagram updates include smiling faces, always. Often “speaks” over other’s posts – will howl more loudly and share a more amazing story of their adventure, their childrens’ accomplishments, their experience in overcoming this trial
Favorite punctuation form: !!!
II. Hovering like a hyena
– the tendency to lurk often and then only emerge when there is prey to seize.
Marks of hyena behavior: will stay quiet as Facebook friends for months and at the first sight of a controversial post, emerge and are ready to pounce with claws and fangs showing
Favorite punctuation form: ???
III. Prancing like a rainbow unicorn
– the tendency to be the Delilah of the internet
Marks of kitten licking behavior: always has a silver lining to offer on the dreariest of posts, is always the one offering hugsies across internet lines, always offers a “You’re so pretty” even if it’s the umpteenth selfie posted on Instagram today
Favorite punctuation form: 🙂 🙂
IV. Barking like a guard dog
– the tendency to educate, fundraise, or draw attention to a cause or angle, often with a sense of urgency, or dripping with guilt
Marks of guard dog behavior: Lots of solicitations to Sign this petition on change.org, buy this product, avoid this product or your eyeballs will fall out
Favorite punctuation form: :O
V. Huddling like a turtle
– the tendency only to lurk and watch life happening through the internet portal, never emerging to make contact but rather preferring the safety and comfort of one’s own protective shell.
Marks of turtle behavior: Member of forums though never posts, reader of blogs though never comments
Favorite punctuation form:…
I have surely been guilty of all the above forms. What behaviors have you observed?