So, I belong to this online glass forum where lampworkers, beadmakers and jewelry designers gather to chat, share ideas, promote their work, etc. I'm not super active. I'll sometimes post my new 'for sale' items. If I see a particularly striking piece of work, I'll comment on it. If someone has a question or an issue that I think I can help with, I'll chime in.
I've always found this place to be basically relaxed and friendly. I've met some nice people, gotten some excellent advice and even gotten a couple of customers there. It's a little cliquish (is that a word?) as forums can be but not particularly exclusive. I've never felt unwelcome there, in my participation.
So, lately, there's been a lot of drama and a lot of mudslinging on and about this forum. Some people have felt unfairly censored or even attacked and they've decided to take their toys and go home. There are some wonderful, creative artists who've gotten their feelings hurt and have stopped participating. It's sad, but you can't be faint of heart or sensibility if you're going to vocalize your thoughts. I'm not saying that they're wrong in feeling the way they do. I'm not saying that there haven't been some critical things said. I'm just saying that's what it's all about.
I feel like you sort of get back what you put out there. If you have complaints or issues and you make them public, then you have to expect a wide range of responses. That's what free speech is all about. You can't think that you'll only hear good stuff. You can't assume that everyone loves you and thinks the same way you do. If you aggressively respond to every single comment made on a topic, don't expect that others won't do the same. Don't dish it out if you can't take it.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think forums are the place to air dirty laundry, attack other people, or just make random statements out of jealousy. Not at all. Name calling and negativity has no place in a community, online or otherwise. But if you don't want to get hit with some tomatoes, then don't get up on the soapbox in the first place. If you want a place of positivity and creative support, then that's what you should try to generate yourself.
I'm not a doormat. If I believe in something, if I feel like I need to make a stand then I will. But I choose my time and place and I make sure that it's worth the effort. I make my statement and allow others the same courtesy.
After all, if I want to have unlimited control of an issue, then I'll talk about it here.