“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
~Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood
On the TV show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,
(yeah, I used to watch it faithfully as a kid),
Mr. Rogers sang his song about neighbors
as he changed from his work clothes into
his favorite red sweater and tennis shoes.
I loved it when he sang: “I’ve always wanted
to have a neighbor just like you.”
Who Is That Guy Next Door?
Now, you may not even know your real
next-door neighbors, but if you spend time
on the interwebs, you essentially live in
many different digital neighborhoods.
And it might be a good time to ask
yourself a few tough questions.
Would You, Really?
Would you walk outside your front door
in your underwear to get the mail?
Would you shout at the guy next door,
saying what an idiot he is for not
knowing how to recycle correctly?
How about sitting on your doorstep
and getting stinking drunk in front of
the neighborhood kids?
Welcome to the Neighborhood
You live in a digital neighborhood,
along with all the other people with whom
you interact via email, online forums, and
social networking sites.
Those people are your digital neighbors.
Some you have only a fleeting acquaintance
with, and others you invite right into your
digital home for drinks and conversation,
or more, if it’s consensual.
But when we are on this side of our
computer screen, it’s easy to forget the
basics of being a good digital neighbor.
How to Be A Good Digital Neighbor
1. Remember there is a real, live human being
behind every keystroke.
When you respond to someone on the internet,
picture that person sitting directly across from
you and say what you are typing to them.
Write the way you would speak to a real human
Because a real human being is going to
read your words.
2. Remember the kids are watching!
You are modeling online behavior every time
you post, write, or comment on something.
You have no idea who is reading what you are
writing, how old they are, and what impact your
words may have on them.
3. Impulsivity and immaturity live on forever
on the internet.
How you behave on the internet will be
remembered long after you have stopped
behaving that way, thanks to digital archives.
Think before you write.
You are responsible for every word you type, even
when (maybe especially when) you are upset or angry.
Feeling acknowledged, respected, and not having
to worry about having boundaries violated makes
for a safe and happy neighborhood.
Thanks for all you do to make this digital
neighborhood one we all want to live in.
Did I mention I just love what you’ve done
with your front lawn? I mean, your new
profile pic? It’s awesome!