How to Be a Responsible Neo-Chatter
The pen is mightier than the sword. This adage has always made sense to me; after all, a document can govern the laws of Altador, and a book can change the way we view Neopia. Indeed, the pen is mightier than any sword, but with this power comes *ahem* responsibility. Unlike the sword, the pen is available to all, and in the hands of the irresponsible, it can cause more damage than the writer knows.
I have been a long time Neopian and I’ve noticed first-hand the lack of empathy from us, the chatting crowd. We tend to forget that there are people behind these pixels, we forget all the times we’ve done the same things those we criticize have done, and in a way, we choose to forget. We are quick to judge, and ultimately, we are our own arbiters. We may not realize it when we pass judgment or make a snide comment about someone else, but what is really said in that comment is a reflection on our own nature. What does insulting someone you don’t know say about you?
Take, for example, the Pound Chat. I recently came across a board in which a fellow Neopian had lost her beloved painted pet to a Random Event which turned her pet invisible. Needless to say, many were there to console this Neopian, but for every one of those there was another who was berating and insulting. The old “your own fault” comment was very popular, and while this comment may not be untrue, we have to ask ourselves when posting something like this, is it really necessary? No one likes to be kicked when they’re down, and the poor Neopian who lost her pet quickly became frustrated and made her own angry assumptions about the naysayers. An argument ensued, and I left. There was nothing I could have done, because I have tried and failed before.
Let us analyze what could have been done better here. Firstly, if you were the Neopian who unfortunately had her pet painted invisible, the first thing you should do is give yourself a few minutes off of Neopets to calm yourself and ensure that when you do post, it will be rational and legible. If you absolutely have to vent immediately, go to your guild, the people there will be much more sympathetic towards your situation. If you’re not part of a guild, you can think about mailing a Neofriend or even taking a screenshot and updating your petpage. If you do have to post, remember to keep it neutral toned and not overly dramatic, regardless of how you may feel.
Even after all these precautions, however, there may still be those naysayers and “your own fault”-ers. You really only have one option here; ignore them. Don’t even acknowledge their existence because what these Neopians are ultimately trying to do is to see you go over the edge. The fact that these Neopians gain entertainment from your loss does not show them in a good light, and many other Neopians will see this. Don’t give them the satisfaction of acknowledgement, and they’ll quickly grow bored and leave. As for the flip side, easy, just don’t post. If your opinions, however rational they may be, will make the situation at hand worse, then don’t post them. If you must make yourself heard, do it in a respectable and mature fashion; warn the Neopian who had her pet turned Invisible about the various random events that can affect active pets, but don’t turn your information into a lecture.
In another example, this time on the Battledome Chat boards, a younger Neopian was having trouble figuring out the intricacies of the Battledome. He asked many questions that may have seemed like common knowledge to regular BD Chatters in a self centered and childish way. When he didn’t receive answers immediately, he made comments about the lack of helpfulness from the Battledome Chatters. Regardless, many veteran Battledome Chatters turned up to either give this Neopian blatantly false information in the name of humor or to lecture him about finding things out for himself. Among those, few actually gave any answers. Well, the board grew heated and somehow, another Chat-fight ensued.
What could have been done differently here to avoid the result? Well, first and foremost, this young Neopian could have done much of the research alone, or he could have asked a Neofriend or even his guild for help. Failing that, he could have posted his questions in a literate and concise way, being patient for a reply. The veteran Neopians should have reacted with more class, and should have given him the information while telling him that patience is a virtue. Always remember that the smartest thing to do when you start becoming frustrated or angry on a particular thread is to leave it. Play some Meerca Chase, Whack a Kass if you must, but leave.
Of course, tempers can quickly flair from the smallest misunderstandings, and online, there is no face to see, no sarcasm to perceive, no emotion can be easily read. There are only the words, and words are open to interpretation. Next time you’re about to hit that “Post Your Reply” button, look over what you’ve written and make sure it cannot be perceived in a hurtful manner to anyone, and even if you don’t care about anyone else, at least realize that what you write may have a bad reflection on yourself.
I believe that we all have the ability to be good people. We tend to have morals and are inclined to do what is right. I think most of us simply don’t realize how powerful of an instrument the pen indeed is. It is easy to dislike something that is, in our minds, just a collection of pixels and sentences. After all, no one likes Dr. Sloth when his tax collectors show up, but many of us learn to appreciate Sloth for who he is, egotistic and maniacal as he may be. (I prefer to think of him as an entrepreneur.) Point is, we are not our Neopets account, we are people, and once we all start treating each other this way, Neopia will become a much happier and brighter place.
The pen is a powerful tool, and it has been handed to all those who choose to chat on the Neoboards. Use this tool responsibly and always think before you write, just as you would look both ways before stepping onto a busy street. So, good chatting and Cheers!
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