Oh the value of the interwebs - what an amazing tool to share knowledge, establish expertise & promote one's expertise! At our fingertips are an endless variety of blogs, sites & social media tools that are ingredients of the digital stew that feed and nourish our businesses...and can sour or taint one's reputation & public perception of the industry, collectively & individually, within seconds.
In any number of "private" groups, "members-only" forums, tweets, retweets, discussions and straight out in front of the public, there are opportunities galore to show our expertise, experience and mastery that we work so hard to achieve...while at the same time proclaim to the world that some of us are no better than the braying asses many in the public perceive practitioners in this business to be.
Time after time I have witnessed simple, earnest discussions devolve into name-calling, character assassinations, and worse. Accusations of ethical misconduct, pious declarations of "I never/I always (insert whatever here)" and endless instances of "piling on" fly around the electronic universe as individuals become a mob espousing "integrity," "ethics," "raising the bar," the merits of one business model vs another, how-to/where-to/whether-to/should-do/shouldn't-do and much more.
In many ways, we mirror what we see in our own society: polarized & unable to have a civil discussion without posturing, labeling & waving half-truths about like a victory flag for all to see. Generally, this kind of behavior is perpetrated by the few, tolerated by the many. I've left several groups because of the seeming inability to have a rational discussion on a number of topics without the thread being hijacked by a couple of shrill, vehement voices intent on asserting their point of view or spewing hatred or blind devotion to one way of thinking or another. I've been guilty of this myself occasionally - and finding that I wished I could erase that smarmy comment or snarky response afterward.
Is it any wonder why our profession is consistently lagging behind others in poll after poll of consumer trust? With the explosion of social media interfaces & freedom of the interwebs, the attention goes to the braying ass all too often. We have to Rise Above The Fray in our quest to "Raise The Bar." To get respect, one has to give it - and treat each other with such. Civility, Decorum & Willingness To Explore need to replace Intolerance, GroupThink & Irascible Behavior.
C'mon folks - Rise Above The Fray. No matter how "locked-down," "secret," or "private" a group/forum or site may be, the internet never forgets. Lets agree to be the standard and the example, not the herd.