Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wine Netiquette

What is “netiquette,” you ask mon cheri? Why “netiquette” is network etiquette -- the etiquette of cyberspace.

Like any culture, cyberspace also has its own etiquette. If you were dining in Japan or a guest at the Rabbi’s Passover Seder, I mean, we wouldn't stick chopsticks in our nose to imitate a walrus nor would we bring a bacon cheeseburger to the Rabbi’s house now, would we? So, should we behave any different when we are in cyberspace?

Of all of the cyberspace groups I have been a part of, I think wine bloggers really give it their best - they are the best. Now let me say, I am not perfect in my netiquette. What you see on my blog, mouth and all, is pretty much my personality. What you read is what you get. But in spite of it all, I still remember the golden rules my parents and kindergarten teacher taught me and I really treasure Robert Fulghum’s, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.

Share everything, play fair, don’t hit people, say you are sorry when you hurt people, wash your hands before you eat, flush, hold hands and stick together, cookies and milk are good for you …

In fact, I think these rules should be a wine tourist's motto, of course trading out the milk for wine.

In the crazy, fast and free world of cyberspace, I think there should be one important rule: remember the human. We need to remember, what we pound out on the keyboard, would we be willing to say it to the person’s face? I probably would, but I also have to remember the mischief in my eyes, my scrunched up smirk, and the smart aleck tone in my voice (and even me sticking out my tongue like a juvenile) doesn’t always convey to everyone, only after they know me (So I apologize to anybody I may have offended this week - but, just this week).

Recently, I was seeking journalistic advice on an online message board. I was "told" by one of the journalists that my messages on that particular board needed some polish. I was told I was nothing but an amateur writer. I was told my sentences were clunky and often didn’t make sense.

Yeah, I know - sometimes. Again, I am not perfect, but nobody is harder on me - than me! Sometimes I even talk "clunky." Sometimes I stutter, twist words and cannot finish complete trains of thought. I forget. I've had a few head injuries in my youth and developed adult dyslexia. There are times I cannot read a newspaper article without it being a struggle. I use to be able to read a book in one night and now it can take me almost a month to process a book. Writing and blogging has helped. I think it has kept my noggin' from getting worse. I am grateful to my readers and editors who put up with my foibles.

So, did the criticism from this person hurt my feelings? Naahh. I considered the source. Was I surprised by the brazen tact? A little. But later it got me to thinking, wonder if that person said the same criticism to a very sensitive person whose feelings would be hurt or had a severe challenge? And in the end, what did this miserable source of criticism really hope to gain? Was it from their own source of insecurities? And if they had an opportunity to be with me in person, as well as with all of the people in the message board, would they have been able to say that to my face in front of all of these people?

Last year, some of the wine bloggers had a few heated debates in cyberspace with editors and wine enthusiasts, Robert Parker and Anthony Dias Blue. Sure, an emoticon of :-P (sticking out tongue) and a (_x_) (kiss my a ... well you get the message) was thrown around here and there. But hey, it was a debate of sorts - a disagreement. There is no doubt in my mind the same words would have been slung around even if the debate was face to face in a wine bar. But in my opinion, Parker and Dias Blue lost the debates, even with their best and most reasonable points.

They lost when they called the wine bloggers names in a magazine editorial and online. If either of these public speakers were addressing a group of wine bloggers at a seminar and a comment was made they didn't agree with, would Parker and Dias Blue address the group as "blobbers and bitter carping gadflies" for retaliation? I would hope not. It might stifle their careers a bit. So why should it be any different from the keyboard?

Two days ago I received an email from a woman who is a retired English teacher, recipe blogger and a wine lover. As a fun hobby, or she may even believe it is her calling from the Goddess of Grammar, she sends emails to owners of wine websites about their incorrect spelling and grammar. So, my offense was that I had used the word "compliment" instead of "complement." Now this woman didn't introduce herself and her approach was just, "You misspelled a word. Common error and you need to correct it."

Was I offended? Hell no! (I mean, "Heck no!") Was I surprised. Well, yeah because of the intrusion, so to speak, and without an introduction. My response? Like a playful cat, I knew I had a mouse I could bat around and have some fun with. After I got ahold of my uncontrollable giggling from daydreaming about Machiavellian tactics I could use, I looked her up on the web. I read her recipes and sent her an email. I asked her if she was the Chief of Spelling and will I be arrested if I didn't correct my spelling error?

I asked her if she typically spent her time correcting websites without any kind of introductions? I mean, approach and style is everything, right? I also pointed out she had several errors on her own blog, such as run-on sentences, over use of commas, and some sentences needing proper punctuation, but I would never dream of pointing out her errors without a proper introduction - -

Hello my name is Catie ...

She wrote me back and said I didn't need to be so defensive and there was nothing wrong with her written grammar. She said I should have been more appreciative of her wanting to help me, because everyone else is. To make a long story short, she apologized, I accepted her apology and we parted well with her leaving me a compliment (or was it a complement?)

It's nice to see young people taking the initiative to make something of themselves.

Now, what would I say to her if I ever meet her in person? I would introduce myself, give her a hug, and ask if she thought I made some thing of myself. Also, I would remind her to be cautious about using too many contractions in a sentence and that she should have put a period at the end of "It's important to whip your cream until it's stiff and let your meatloaf rest "

Cheers!

3 comments:

drinknectar said...

Awww, Catie - stupid people suck - don't they. All the things we learned in Kindergarten are amplified by 10. We're living in a 25 million + small town on Twitter.

One redeeming comment - she called you 'young'

cheers!

Barb said...

I love your writing style Catie. I feel like I'm having a conversation with you when I read your blogs. (Even if it's a one-sided conversation.) Sometimes perfect grammar puts me to sleep. I would so much rather read something conversational and real than perfectly written and dull.

Onideus Mad Hatter said...

Personally I think it's kind of cute when people want to run around being other people's online secretaries. I usually tell them I'm going to send over a few dozen documents for them to copy edit, since they're apparently working for free and have way too much time on their hands. Might as well keep them busy! ^__^

As far as "netiquette", well, there's actually *LOTS* of different forms of it online, and in some circles, yes, it is in fact appropriate to use "insults", or "flaming", however the idea is that you're supposed to do it creatively and it's generally supposed to be somewhat satirical, not really meant to try and hurt anyone's virtual feewings or anything.

The art of trolling/flaming, otherwise known as Internet Performance Art, or "Invective Word Art" as I like to call it, actually predates the world wide web by about a decade and originated in the depths of Usenet. It is one of the longest standing traditions in Internet history.

But again, it's not exactly meant to be taken overly serious, and in some respects that's the point. If someone takes it real serious and gets overly offended by mere words on a screen, well, that's kind of entertaining. Especially if their reaction to it is *WAY* over the top and they start frothing off at the mouth about it.