Back in 1992, there were horrible riots in Los Angeles after an all-white jury acquitted 4 police officers of using excessive force against a man named Rodney King, even though there was extensive video footage of the beating, which also included a lot of other police officers standing around watching it happen. As is wont to happen, a bunch of people set up a quick press conference to get Mr. King's thoughts on what was going on and we ended up with this now famous "misquoted" statement:

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"

Los Angele's three day Shoot , Loot & Scoot 1992 (Rodney King beating)
ATOMIC Hot Links
via Compfight

In the almost 25 years since that particular verdict came down (April 29, 1992), I feel it's safe to say that what's occurred everywhere in the country since then proves that no, we can't all get along. Actually, we've never been able to get along, and now it feels like things have gotten worse.

The LA Riots and the vitriol from both sides after the O.J. Simpson verdict in 1995 got a lot of us thinking that it was all about race, and that was a pretty convenient narrative for discussions to start from. I'm big on diversity and fairness for all, so I spent a lot of time talking about this throughout the 2000's and I still talk about the inequities even now.

Only... it turns out that the arguments, other than discussions, actually don't have as much to do with race as I'd always believed. Yes, that's still a big issue we all need to deal with, but these days it's more about ideology, the belief that "we're right and they're wrong", and the absolute dissipation of common sense, common values and the apparent belief that being nice means one is showing weakness.

The best place to observe this is in a strange place for it to be... that being the social media site LinkedIn. As bad as I thought things were getting before last year's election, it seems like things have gotten worse, even though one would think that people would realize that everyone's watching this bad behavior all the time... on a purported business site no less.

It doesn't help that LinkedIn is trying to become Facebook, but it doesn't excuse a lot of the behavior either. I see a lot of people posting things that actually happened to them at their place of work and at least 25 - 50% of the comments calling them "babies" and "malcontents"... only not using language that nice.

She cooks too!
Katie Spence
via Compfight

I used to think that most people who were saying things like that were hiding behind fake names, which is something you see on a lot of social media sites and places like local online newspapers. What I'm realizing is that it doesn't take a fake name for all people to show the worst side of themselves... at least not online. If people can forget themselves on a site that's meant to help people generate business, and a site that makes people use their real names (for the most part since all social media sites can be gamed), then this sends a horrible message to the world that getting along isn't close to being in the equation.

This sounds bad doesn't it? We're at a point where we almost shouldn't even try to talk to anyone outside of our "friend" sphere of influence... and even there, we should take great care in how much we can trust some of those we haven't known for all that long a period of time.

In last week's post I gave 3 ways of trying to make conversations more productive so we could try to have more discussions instead of arguments. This week I'm going to offer 5 pieces of advice that we all need to consider before we post anything online. I'm dealing with online issues now because what I've found for the most part is that around 3/4th of the people who say hurtful things online don't have the guts or the nerve to say it to someone in person... probably because in person consequences can be more severe is more ways that one... just sayin'...

1. Think about the pros and cons of whatever you're about to post or say.

There's almost no such thing as universal agreement on anything in this world. If you post pictures of puppies there are going to be cat fanatics who are going to be upset about it (I'm not lying here lol). If it can happen to relatively innocuous things, it can certainly happen when you post something a bit more serious.

2. Think about what those who might not agree with you might say and whether you're ready to deal with it.

Something I also see often is that if someone posts a response to someone that feels out of line, a lot of people will come to the defense of the original poster and all heck breaks loose. Even on blogs it can happen if those writing the content aren't careful in moderating comments to keep it all under control (I'm big on that). Disagreements are one thing; making sure people respect your space and what you have to say can be another.

3. Think about whether you care what someone else has to say or not.

The least popular posts from this blog are those I write on diversity issues, whether it's about race or sex or something else. Yet, because I find it important to discuss and keep bringing up, it's one of the few topics I'm never afraid to address or talk about, sometimes even being a little confrontational when I do.

Sometimes you may feel you have to take a stand and protect your convictions about a subject or about the protection of others. In those times, worrying about what someone else might think about it isn't that important... at least it shouldn't be. If you believe you can't handle people coming back at you then don't even think about putting yourself out there. Just remember this line from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (for whom the 49th anniversary of his assassination was yesterday): "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

4. Never feed the trolls; let others do it for you if necessary.

Trolls are people whose only goal in life is to get a rise out of you online. Most of the time they don't even care about the subject; they get their jollies just by seeing you respond to some stupidity they've uttered in your space.

Whether it's intentional or someone else's ill-gotten chosen words that may upset you, the best thing to do it... nothing. Don't respond, don't read it if you can help it, don't let it get you down. If you're able to, delete it, block them and move on. You can do it on your blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter... maybe one day LinkedIn and Google Plus will catch on, since both want to be Facebook so bad.

5. Please, PLEASE, make sure your heart is in the right place.

I tend to believe that people get back what they put out, and that people who put out hate and negativity are actually hateful and negative people. I'm sure they wouldn't see themselves that way, but if it walks like a duck...

If you can't say something helpful when you disagree with someone you don't know, it's probably best not to say anything. If you're putting out good vibes it's possible you'll get some negativity coming back your way, but you'll probably get more good than bad.

One of my pet peeves is seeing so much non-business items (including things that might help promote their proficiency) being posted on LinkedIn, but instead of griping about it on someone's post I leave it alone. I like to think most of those people's hearts are in the right place when they put that stuff on there. I also hate seeing those same people getting a lot of mean comments from curmudgeonly types who have nothing better to do than espouse acridity that's not deserved.

If your hearts in the right place, then whether or not I like it shouldn't be your concern. The same applies to everyone else who might say something. If you've considered the first 3 points above and you're still good to go... you do you Boo! 🙂

By the way, in case you want a little bit more on trying to get along with others, check out this video of mine from 2014: