I don’t remember where I heard that saying, but I have no doubt what it means. Do not pick a fight you are not relatively sure you can win.
Imagine the internet is a bear (particularly the social media part). Do Not Poke the Bear. You simple will not win. You will be eaten. In the event you are not eaten, someone else will be, and either way, it is just not worth it.
I watched a show tonight about these people who’s lives had been “ruined” by the internet; like it came to their home unannounced and kicked in the door while they sat innocently on their couch, reading. No, that is not how the internet works. They were interacting online/poking the bear and the bear bit back.
Now, I see the irony of using an internet blog space to talk about this subject. It is not lost on me. 🙂 I am not saying it’s all bad. A bear by nature is simply a bear. The best thing you can do about a bear is be very mindful that when you are in it’s territory, you run some risks. For the most part, if you respect them, they’ll respect you. (Disclaimer: If you plan on going into the actual woods, make sure you know about bear habits and safety.) The internet is much the same. Show a little respect, patience, grace, understanding and intelligence, and most of the time you’ll get the same in return.
As far as some of the people on the show were concerned, they walked right into the bear’s cave and started poking away without even a thought of what the consequences might be. The bear attacked, and then they have the audacity to be surprised and offended. (Now I am not excusing death threats and weirdo stalkers. Before you get your panties in a wad, illegal is still illegal.)
The funny thing is that at least one of the people from the show, after getting the internet/bear all stirred up and then going on cable TV to garner support and sympathy from the masses, they walked right back into that cave and poked the bear. I saw post after post where they antagonized the very people they said they feared. Who does that? Crazy people? attention whores? liars? I just don’t know. If others like me decided to check out their story online, they will continue to lose all credibility and quite honestly so will the show.
I get it, sometimes a bear can attack unexpectedly. It cannot always be helped. But if I am in bear country/online, I’m not going to pick a fight I can not win. And you can bet that if I get attacked once, I will not be dumb enough to march up into that bear’s cave and start poking it on purpose, begging it to try to eat me a second time! You block that sucker and you never look back.
If you get offended about something just move along. There are plenty of people in the world with whom you are going to disagree. They do not all need to be told you disagree. There are, quite honestly, a number of people who’s elevators don’t always go to the top floor, but do they really need you to tell them they are dumb? Is it really necessary to insults someone’s mother? Or to wish an individual never procreates? Who are you really helping with these kinds of responses? Don’t be a jerk.
Unless you have been officially assigned to the Internet Forestry Commission: Bear Division, just simply keep moving. Play nice, be safe, and by all means:
Do Not Poke The Bear