Online disrespect and technotrauma

More and more people are using the internet to communicate. It makes sense. After all, it’s quick and easy to send someone an email, text or direct message.

But I think there’s a growing problem. It’s that people write things that are disrespectful.


First, let’s be honest. We humans are deeply flawed.

Second, instant communication eliminates your ‘sober second thought.’ Before you’ve had a chance to fully think things through, it’s easy to send something you’ll later regret. And it’s too late to take it back.

Third, for all its benefits, the internet has a desensitizing effect. Since you can’t see people’s faces when you communicate with them, it’s easier to treat them like they’re less than human. It’s as if we forget we’re dealing with an actual person.

I actually think that a significant and growing source of stress and anxiety for people is techno-trauma.

And yet, in Romans 12:10 Paul says to “Honor one another above yourselves.” We fail to do that when we don’t use that sober second thought, and when we forget that we’re communicating with other flesh-and-blood people online.

With all this in mind, here’s a rule that can help you honour others online, and which will curb the amount of things you type that you’ll one day regret:

Never say something to someone online that you wouldn’t say in person.

Before you type, message or hit send, ask yourself whether or not this is something you’d say to someone’s face.

Our online communication habits can give us the illusion of anonymity since there’s a physical distance between us. But anonymity disappears when we’re face-to-face with someone. We’re usually more accountable and respectful with our words in person.

So let’s honour one another.

Never say something to someone online that you wouldn’t say in person.

By Matthew Ruttan

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