THE BLOG

Online Privacy: Terms of Engagement

10/02/2014 09:19 GMT | Updated 09/04/2014 10:59 BST

Why - sometimes - it's just best to say nothing at all (unless you're James Blunt)

Negative comments. We all get them. Not many of us enjoy them, but the majority of us can take the rough with the smooth. However, there is always that one statement (the straw that breaks the camel's back, if you will) that forces us to snap. To respond. To cause an issue. But what makes us do this? And why can't we take a step back, a deep breath, and realise that it's not that big a deal?

Immediacy. Immediacy is the answer. With over 500 million tweets sent per day from 230 million monthly active users on Twitter (a number increasing month-on-month, according to Expanded Ramblings), the world is more connected than ever before - and for longer. Neverending, in fact. And we feel the need to update, respond, reply, inform and acknowledge everything that passes before our eyes.

I feel that nowadays, in this age of immediacy - with your friends, foes and family at your fingertips no matter where they are in the world - one never takes time to step back and think.

Often when people send an abusive or hurtful message, they want you to engage; they are goading you and almost daring you to react. The irony is, people who act in this manner would rarely, if ever, be brave enough to say this to your face. They are hiding behind the protection of social media. It's almost like road rage, the angry driver who can bully or intimidate another simply because they have the protection of a lump of metal!

By metaphorically 'holding your tongue' for mere minutes, you'll often - although, not always - come to realise that a response, or any engagement, is simply not needed. Just because someone has reacted to, or has an opinion on, something you have said or done, does not mean you too have to overreact in response. Employ a 'think before you send rule'; perhaps by following these rules from Get Growing For Business.

If people really feel the need to engage to an offensive or negative Tweet and can't simply ignore it, perhaps at the very least they can try and take control of the situation and feel good about their reply (and themselves) by taking the James Blunt approach:

He has this remarkable ability of just completely diffusing what could become #NastyTwitter and turning it into a positive - for him. Game, set and match to JB. Plus, he thinks you're beautiful.