Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen an awful lot of, let’s use Amber Naslund’s word, kerfuffles, in the online realm. Some of them have been about controversial blog posts. Others have been about controversial tweets.

These incidents have raised some questions for me, and maybe for you too. So I thought maybe we could talk about them.

• Have you noticed that a lot of people recommend stirring controversy to drive traffic to a blog site? Say it loud, say it mean, all that kind of stuff? So, why are we surprised when someone writes something that is controversial?

• Maybe you have also noticed, as I have, all of the blog posts, webinars, etc etc that admonish people in the Social Media world to speak their minds and be authentic. However, it seems like when someone voices, authentically, an opinion that doesn’t mesh with group A, group A responds with knives and pitchforks and civility goes out the window. So is the rule that you can be as authentic as you want as long as you agree with me?

• And finally, maybe you have noticed that if someone writes a post that frames an influential person in a negative way, it’s going to create chaos, a lack of civility, and overall bad vibes. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. Supporters of the influential person jump in. Supporters of the blogger or tweeter jump in. So, why can’t we pinpoint this pattern and remain civil? Why can’t we talk about ideas instead of people?

If you’re here for business, online is at work

I love a good debate. I love researching to see if my own opinion actually has real legs to stand on. I love to be held accountable for what I say here and in my tweets. But loving those things also means a sense of responsibility. If I choose to write a blog post, like say, this one, I have to write it knowing that it can be read by absolutely anyone. I have to know that every word that I tweet is visible to absolutely everyone. When/if you Google my name (and why wouldn’t you?) my tweets show up right at the top. That means if a new client is looking at our agency, they will very likely see my tweets. If someone is looking to work for us, they will see my tweets, most likely. They may see this blog. They may see my Facebook page or my LinkedIn account.

That is on my mind all. of. the. time.

Because I care about you and don’t want anything disastrous to happen to you, I implore you to keep it that on your mind too.

Controversy is fine. Saying what is in your heart is the right way to go. But do not stir the pot without thinking, and always, always be aware that people may only see your side of the debate, without context. How do you look to those people who can’t hear the person you’re talking to?

Just something to think about.

Image by Dan Brady. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/danyul