the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Online Life and the Golden Rule

Despite what some might say, there are no definitive rules for how to act online.  Every individual must find his way.   To guide my own personal morality, I simply use the Golden Rule, both offline and online: Do unto others…

I share too much of myself online.  Do I feel guilty about this?   No. Because I respect it when you share your life with me.  Do unto others…

I do not like the constant pimping or self-boasting that occurs on social media.  I cannot control what you do, but I try hard not to do it myself.  Do unto others….

I love when you debate, so I debate with you.

Since I am bored by too many empty, positive affirmations, you won’t see me forcing them on you.

I like it when you are empathetic, so I return the favor.

I view trolls as mean-spirited assholes, so why in the world would I become a troll?  Fair is fair.   The only truly honest trolls are the ones who enjoy getting trolled themselves. More power to them!

If I think, “Why doesn’t Susan stop writing about **** all the time on Facebook,” I ask myself, “How much do I write about **** on Facebook?”

This morning, on Instagram, a guy in Sweden was posting tons of photos. He was on a trip to a local goat farm with his wife and kids, and he must be having one helluva time, or really love goats.  He is a talented guy, and I respect his work.  But enough photos already. Leave some room for the others, buddy!

After thinking this, I paused and acknowledged that I do the same. I have a bad habit of using social media too much, posting ten Instagram photos in ten minutes, drowning out the voices of others.

This might not bother you at all. But if it annoys me when others do it, it is an essential part of my moral code to question myself.

When someone annoys the hell out of you, rather than going into attack mode, ask yourself, “Do I do the same?” Chances are you do.  And as any good therapist will tell you, you can only change your actions.

The name of the month Twitter chat group I moderate with Schmutzie and Laurie White has been changed from #Blog2012 to the more sexier #BlogNow. Our first post-BlogHer meeting will take place tomorrow, September 11 at 9PM EST. Discussion topic: Do you write for the love of writing itself, or is it a means to an end for you? Does the quality of blogging suffer if the love of writing isn’t there?



  1. Amie aka @mammaLoves

    Please, please, please can we get a DSLR in your hand??? You have the most amazing eye for photography. And a good ear for how to behave online as well. I agree!

  2. Casey

    Yes. This. Always this. Online. In real life. In my marriage. In my kid. If you are driving me crazy, it’s probably because I am driving myself crazy. Great post. Great writing. Thank you.

  3. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    We tend to attack in others what annoys us the most about ourselves.

    Some times I just step back out of the circle for a while and put my attention elsewhere. I recognize I’m not annoyed with FB/Twitter, I’m annoyed about something else altogether and I’m avoiding confronting THAT THING by trying to distract myself. When I’m irritated on social media, I know it’s time to get off and do something constructive, make a change, make progress toward a goal, do something I feel good about.

    • Cathy in Missouri

      Hey V-Grrrl, the subject of airlines and bulkhead seats came up at dinner the other night. When I told your story – the “NOT changing seats though hounded unmercifully” story – there was applause.

      Yes, applause in Missouri for you, V-Grrrl.

      Thank you, again, for not moving. And Neil, I’m still glad you did. Yay Trucker Bob.


  4. Stacy

    well said, well said 😉

  5. Erica M

    I loved this post! So very well said. On Twitter, I try to ignore what bugs me. I filter and mute a lot. Plus, your brain filters most of the noise anyway. 25 tweets in a row from Goat Guy? Your brain probably noticed six of them. Anyone overriding his or her brain to complain publicly about it is being a Twitter crank.

    Your self-portrait at the top of this post is fetching!

    • Jack

      I haven’t encountered goat guy yet but I am really intrigued by him. Maybe it is because my kids are fighting now and I am pretending to be busy and hopeful that they will magically work it out without my help.

  6. Irish Gumbo

    Now you’ve made go and question my self… could be a long night…

  7. gorillabuns

    I try to not think about others are doing because it is truly futile. I can’t change them and they can’t change me. I’m so good about ignoring everyone.

  8. Megan

    Such a simple philosphy. Too bad no everybody suscribes to it.

  9. Alexandra

    You are right.

    It’s so hard to see what others see.

    I think maybe I’ll keep better track of what I post, tweet, FB.

    Thank you, Neil.

    A mirror to the face is always a very, very good thing.

  10. Kim

    I think I do this backwards: I look at what people are giving me, and I figure that’s what they want me to give back to them. And except for that one lady who lied about having a grave disease, this is usually what I do.

    When I am annoyed with the internet and social media, I take a few days’ break. By the time I come back, I miss everyone and forgive them their habits. Then the cycle continues.

  11. Jenna

    I try very hard to live by this rule… online and off. I make mistakes sometimes, but I think we all do… which brings us back to the rule and lending a little compassion when someone slips.

  12. Marie Nicole

    The things that annoy us THE most in others are things we are most usually guilty of doing. True story.

    Ever notice how you pretty much always post at the exact same time as Schmutzie? I only noticed because I get both of your posts in my email, and they pretty much always arrive at the same time. Have the two of you ever been seen in the same room at the same time? Are you and her like Superman and Clark Kent?

    But back to the topic of your post – I love your debates and love getting involved with them. I agree with you the multiple over posting of pictures is a bit much. I asked a friend recently if my presence on Facebook was over the line. She gushed and said yes, I was a bit on the annoying side. I thanked her and radically changed my approach. I actually created a fake account, friended me and started watching and observing the frequency of my crap on FB. It was insane! I wanted to unfriend me, but that would defy the scientific exercise I was conducting.

    As you say – do unto others. Be the friend you wish you had.

  13. When I Blink

    Stumbled upon #blognow by chance on Twitter. Really enjoyed it, and likewise enjoyed this post. I don’t often call myself a blogger, and sometimes I don’t know that I “fit in” in conversations about blogging. (I’ve been a professional writer and editor for 15 years, and only started a blog — for fun — a few months ago.) But I truly got a kick out of the conversation this evening. Great questions on the chat, and such great commentary from all sorts of folks. Thank you!

  14. tracy @mamacreates

    see, it’s posts like these why I love what you have to say (both spoken, & not) so damn much.

    I have only one additional comment to add, which goes along with the notion of looking towards yourself when you find yourself annoyed or pissed off at someone else. My shrink has told me many things, but among those that have had a life-changing affect on me (not fully practicing it, but awareness is half the battle, no?), is that when you find yourself feeling resentful of someone else’s actions, or their failure to act, or that they’ve not lived up to our (we like to believe) very simple expectations, it’s a chance to look at yourself & ask what you could have done differently. Did I actually tell him what I needed him to do for me, or was I vague in my request because, dammit, he should just KNOW?

    I like the idea that it forces me to hold myself accountable for the things I say (or don’t say) before getting pissed & spewing my Judgy McJudgerson, resentment-venom. Pshaw. Like I’d ever do that…..

    Anyway….great post as always 🙂

  15. Jessica

    Yup. And any good therapist will tell you that the reason this bothers you is the through “mirroring” – – we are usually bothered by the things we most resent about ourselves.

    Good writing as always, Neil – – and I love the photo!

  16. mirrormon

    good post… and I agree with Jessica’s comment above…I ve noticed when I am bothered by something by others, I usually either naturally develop it because of the amount of attention that I ve paid to it, and then I have to work on it all over again… or otherwise I already have that kind of trait in me…but then again I try to work on…not been much success though, on the latter

  17. Covers For Industrial

    This is a very well written article. Ignore those ugly things that only ruins your day. Hold back to such actions of doing same as what others do.Good post!

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