good manners and the internet

People often look back to the turn of the century (which for me will always mean 1900) as a halcyon time of perfect manners. But of course those manners did not prevent the world wars, racism, sexism, and other miseries. Nowadays, we have improved much in our society. But basic good manners are eroding fast. It's no longer acceptable to discriminate against a particular group - but now, it seems, so many people discriminate against everyone who is not them. Narcissism, self-absorption, brutal competitiveness even amongst children, self-entitlement, individualism - these are the new excuses for prejudice and rudeness.

I was determined to write on this subject today, especially in regards to the internet, which I see as exacerbating our society's general inconsideration of each other. But it's difficult to discuss in a polite manner. As I was trying to compose the post (intermittently browsing elsewhere) I came across two quotes which reminded me what real good manners look like.
To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forego the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do. Herman Hesse.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King Jr.
And so, no diatribe from me. There is no judgment here, as I am not living other people's lives and so do not know what directs them. Besides, it's hard enough striving myself towards my ideal. This is only a vision of love, a reminder to myself about what I should be doing.

* Say please. When copying a photograph from a webspace to pinterest or tumblr, and in doubt about whether this would be welcomed by the artist, ask. It is polite but also a heart-warming thing to do.

* Say thank you. Add five more minutes to your blog-reading time in order to acknowledge and thank each author for the thought and effort they put into their blogposts. Many webspaces now have a "like" button which greatly reduces the time you need to spend on this. Of course, there are several reasons people (including me) don't comment on blogposts - again, no judgment here, only a vision of the ideal. 

* Be honourable. It is very frustrating and time-consuming to find the original source for an image before you pin it or add it to tumblr. But it is the right thing to do. Photographers put a lot of heart and work into their images and deserve to be credited for them. If you can't find the original source, pin it to a private board or do not pin it at all.  

* Be respectful. Give credit where it is due, rather than claiming other people's images or words as a part of your own artistic vision. And believe in yourself - compose your own lovely phrases, make your own beautiful art.  
* Be honest. Tumblr links are almost never the original source of an image and should not be used as credit links. Quotes are not always correctly attributed - check first. 

* Be kind. Disagreeing with someone in a Facebook conversation can surely replicate real-life conversations, in which you are unlikely to use insults, nastiness, or unpleasant tones of voice. It's your choice how you behave. The true measure of a woman is how she acts when the people she loves and admires can't see her. 

* Be compassionate. Public discussion of personal tragedies can be important and good, helping us to process a mutual loss and perhaps work out what went wrong so we can prevent it happening to anyone else again, and so we can improve our society. But consider your motivation before mining such tragedies as material for blogposts. Are you joining the discussion or using it as an opportunity to draw in an eager audience? A bereaved daughter's recent eulogy to her father can be found on pinterest in various forms. That daughter is a real person experiencing real grief which she may not want made into posters and used on the internet for other people's entertainment, or even for their inspiration. 

* Be generous. The internet is a wonderful opportunity to spread love and goodness. To promote artists you love. To share messages of hope and faith. To inspire and encourage other people. To support charities, small businesses, good causes, low-budget art projects, important ventures. Imagine if we used the internet for good. What a beautiful virtual world we might make - and perhaps a beautiful real world too as a result.

None of this is meant to preach. I personally believe good manners are Love in its everyday clothes. We can't always be kind, loving - we get headachy, hurried, grumpy, troubled within ourselves. But we can always be polite.


  1. Every day is eagerly await your posts. And every day you inspire me. Thank you, once again, for writing. You are a gift to this world.

    1. that is so nice of you to say! thank you :-)

  2. I think good manners should be used at all time, on the net and in real life. we are civilize beings aren't we? but sometimes you do have to be a little rude to get your message across. but a loud voice is sometimes consider rude even when it is not. perhaps we are just a little too sensitive sometimes?

    this list is good. it's definitely a list I would write and follow.

    anyway, lovely flower shots here. I find your images to be quite soothing and dreamy. and your ever-changing header, is always lovely.

    hope you have a sweet day.

    1. I know I am a little too sensitive ;-)

      I appreciate your kind words about my photos.

  3. Well i have tried to leave a comment twice and neither one appeared. Thank you.. Kindness matters.

    1. thank you so much for persisting, I really appreciate it :-)

  4. "so many people discriminate against everyone who is not them. " I've been complaining that the box called "Normal" has shrunk. Not only in small social groups "how can you not be watching the same tv show I do" but also in all the children ending up with a psychiatric label because they do not fit into the prescribed forms of teaching in school for instance.

    I'd very much like to preach that we do away with boxes altogether. I don't wanna be in them, I want to see each person I meet as an individual. That would do away with a lot of premature judgment, or judgment altogether. Try to see things from more than one side, and even if you don't like, at least try to understand or accept.

    1. I agree with you about boxes ... although at the same time it can be helpful to find a way in which you do fit normal, even if it's only as a foundation from which to grow. Humans are communal spirits. Oh and I completely agree with you about children!!!

    2. Well, if we do need a Normal box, then let's expand it instead. Everybody has their own special quirks. And get closer to someone you'd not normally talk to, and you are more alike than you'd ever imagined.

  5. Good Morning Sarah, I don't remember where I started out, but I was clicking away and came upon your blog. It was your beautiful header that stopped me and called me to read more. I have been reading your posts all morning and I feel so good now...your writing makes me feel good. and your photos are breathtaking.

    I keep a quote by Mother Teresa taped on my mirror and I read it every morning and every night before bed. I wish everyone would live by it, or strive to.
    " I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

    Have a beautiful day!

    1. Thank you for your note :-) I especially appreciate the compliment to my photographs, I have worked hard on them for years and hope I may be getting closer to being good at them. They represent a very old dream of mine.

      Your weblog is beautiful - even just a glimpse took my breath away - I look forward to spending some time reading over there today.


  6. "* Say thank you. Add five more minutes to your blog-reading time in order to acknowledge and thank each author for the thought and effort they put into their blogposts. Many webspaces now have a "like" button which greatly reduces the time you need to spend on this. Of course, there are several reasons people (including me) don't comment on blogposts - again, no judgment here, only a vision of the ideal."

    Hmmm, I do say thank you, quite a bit. And wonder if I am sounding too ... too something. But... Whatever... I do do it. :-)

    "Like" buttons... Nope, not for me. Too cold and techy. And I don't even know, how a person goes to see, how many "Likes" they got.

    Please, what are several reasons people (including you) don't comment on blogposts? Please, please, please. Why all those pleases? Because for me, commenting on blogs, is the only way, to interact with other bloggers. Comments left on my blog. Comments I leave, on other blogs.

    I do not come back and read a post again, to see if the owner published a "reply," on my comment, on her blog. But I will see it, and enjoy it, if she put a comment on my blog... With Re: whatever she is referring to, if necessary. Or simply, a comment on whatever my post is... That day.

    My views... But I would love to hear your views on this. Please and thank you.


    1. Shyness is one reason, as Sarah Ann and I discussed just below :-)

      Another reason for me is fear that I will be seen like an over-eager creepy person if I comment on every single post someone writes, *especially* if they never comment on my blog. There are *many* people I read who apparently don't read my blog, or if they do they never let me know, and so I assume they don't really like me. Commenting in that case would be awful, so I just enjoy their blog in quiet (or sometimes leave a note if I am very touched by what they have written.)

      Time is not a factor for me because I make sure I work it into my blog-reading time, but I know it is for many people and I don't judge anyone for how they organise their time.

      One person once told me she read blogs in the evening while nursing her sleepy baby. Of course she could not comment often, and I felt it was a priviledge that she was reading at all.

      Yesterday I read a friend's ost with which I fervently disagreed - not because I was angry with her, but because we have different religious perspectives. It took me a very long time to compose a neutral caring comment. Other times I have written to people with whom I disagree and then spent all day angsting about it. In those cases its probably better not to comment at all than get too riled up about something a stranger on the internet said.

      And now my cheese scones are ready for breakfast so if you'll excuse me ... :-)

    2. Back again with scone in hand and tea beside me :-) I remembered another reason people don't comment - they read blogs on their mobile phones, on which commenting is difficult. So you see, I understand why people don't, but if one can it really does make a difference to a blogger, at least that is what I hear and see repeatedly around Blogland.

  7. Sarah ~ I've been reading your blog for awhile now but been too shy to comment for fear of being inadequate in my ability to respond properly to the beauty and power of your posts. I see now how silly that fear is compared to sharing my gratitude and appreciation for all the ways you show up so authentically and exquisitely here. I admire you endlessly.

    Thank you for everything you do here <3 I promise I will peak my head out and say Hi more often.

    1. Shyness is not silly. It's why I myself don't comment on various blogs which I read and love. And it's why I put the little button on my own blog, which is anonymous, because I often wish there was one elsewhere so I wouldn't have to be too brave in commenting :-)

      Thank you for saying hi, it is so very lovely to meet you.

  8. good manners is a wonderful subject
    a way to inspired love and care in our world
    thank you for these inspiring thoughts and ways
    and your lovely and soft photographs

    1. thank you for always leaving such very kind and encouraging notes <3