The Internet for the most part has been great for guitar! I was just thinking that had it not been for the Internet – specifically, the World Wide Web – I wouldn’t be able to gather all the information I get for this blog. If I get wind of something, I can look at the manufacturer’s web site, get some contact information, and communicate with them. The speed at which this happens can be measured in seconds. Just a decade ago, it wouldn’t have been that easy, and I’d have to rely on the printed trade rags to get information. By the time I’d get that information, what would be the point of writing something? It would already be a couple of months old, as magazines usually run a couple to a few months ahead of schedule. But with the speed and ease of information access on the Web, fresh information is readily at hand.
The Web has also enabled the creation of instant communities of like-minded individuals, freely able to communicate with each other and share their ideas and viewpoints. But there’s a darker side to that as well. The most obvious is that face-to-face communication, where you can hear someone’s tone and/or read the expressions on their face is practically eliminated. This impersonalization can result in some very interesting – or more to the point: Annoying behavior.
I’ve been writing blogs since 1995 – even before the word “blog” was coined. And one insidious thing that I’ve encountered time and again is plain rude behavior. We’ve all seen it on forums, and I’ve seen it on my blogs. People come in and rip on someone or some piece of gear, offering nothing in terms of constructive criticism. It’s almost as if the impersonalization is a license to be a jerk.
Some of the more clever writers spout epithets to discredit others; using metaphor or worse yet, their professional credentials to steer the unwary towards their point of view. I’ve found those people to be the most insidious of individuals, never saying what they truly mean, and always speaking in innuendos and implications.
So why am I writing this? Simply because I believe good manners and honesty are important in everything we do. One of the great things about being a musician is the natural camaraderie among musicians. When I get together with other axe-slingers, it doesn’t matter what each of our skill levels are (I tend to be on the lower end of the scale 🙂 ), there’s support and encouragement, and verbal judgment is left unsaid, though courteous, constructive criticism is always at hand.
But sometimes online, that camaraderie seems to be lost, devolving into harsh criticism with no filters. One of the things I swore when I created GuitarGear.org was to always play nice. It’s tempting to rip on someone or some manufacturer, but what does that do but alienate people and in some cases, spread lots of misinformation?
Hey, I’m not saying that one shouldn’t express their opinions – especially about gear – but I’ve witnessed so many campaigns and crusades to discredit people and manufacturers that I had to speak out about it. I have to admit that even I’ve engaged in that in the past, but I decided that it doesn’t do anyone any good, and especially with this blog, it would be a disservice to my readers. What I came to realize is that what may suck for someone will work more than just fine for another. In other words, there’s really no definitive “right” or “wrong.” There’s just a description of experience.