Friday, June 11, 2010

An Internet Manifesto

A week or so ago I was invited to join a new social network that is currently still in beta and by invitation only. They had stumbled across this here humble knitting blog and liked (or so the email said) what they saw. The concept behind this new social network (which, for now, I am going to leave anonymous) is this: people who are really into fashion / designing create profiles and put up pictures of their "looks" for the other users to comment on. At first I thought "hey, this might be a great way to show off my designs to people outside of the knitting community". And in principle, it could be. But in practice I feel like it was a complete and udder disaster. Most of the people on the site are not designers or, as far as I could tell, attempting to get into the fashion world in any way. They put up pictures of outfits they have put together with clothes they bought at american apparel and H&M... which is fine, to each their own.

But when I put up pictures of things that I had designed and knit myself - this sweater for example - I was told that it was hideous and that I should throw it in the trash / burn it. OK, it might not be everyone's style, but really... REALLY? I didn't realize that anyone past the age of 13 could be so hideously cruel.

So I sent the person (one of the creators I assume) that had invited me to try out the site an email, basically saying "Thanks, but no thanks - I don't need so much negativity in my life", but have not received a response.

The whole thing left me feeling pretty down about the state of things on the Internet. Sure, I have friends that I keep in contact via facebook, and there are fantastic online communities - Ravelry being a big one for me, I have never had a negative experience with anyone on rav, ever - but it seems like outside of these small communities that I have chosen to be a part of there is a lot of anger and rage that we direct at our fellow human beings. And it also seems like the internet gives some people license to say whatever they want, to whomever they want. I can't imagine anyone in their right mind walking up to someone on the street that they have never met and spitting rage at them simply because they don't like their clothes... so why is it ok to do it to someone online?

Fortunately the internet is not without hope. I was sent a link to Maureen Johnson's manifesto today, and I think it is well worth reading. If you don't have time for the whole thing, just skip to the bottom and read the blocked in paragraph. It's worth it - and it just might make the internet a nicer place for all of us.


Kate said...

Thanks for posting this! Ironically, that little manifesto made me want to go out and buy her books.

Ivy said...

First off--cute sweater. I love it. :)

Second of all--I think that sounds like a community that's in dire need of a good community manager and some clear guidelines. If you're hosting a community like that, personal attacks really shouldn't be acceptable behavior.

Third--Thanks for linking to the manifesto! I've had an uneasy relationship with personal branding for some time. I understand it, in some capacity, and it can be useful. But I think on par it's much better to feel like I have a sense of someone's personality, even if that's inconsistent or different, than feeling like being fed a packaged brand. But that's just me. :)