One of the great things about building a community of gamers like we have done with Underground Theater is that we become friends in real life. Outside of game, we connect with one another over email, telephone and, perhaps most often, social media – Facebook in particular. It’s wonderful for friendships to foster outside of the game, and there’s no doubt that it’s a thing we all should be striving to do.
As we grow more friendly and closer as a group, however, we also grow more comfortable and let down some of our social graces. It’s something that every one of us struggles with, but we can all work together to make this a friendlier place.
Putting a Smiley at the End Doesn’t Make You NOT a Jerk
It’s important to remember that even though we are friends, we are also usually communicating through text, which doesn’t convey tone. Many comments that people could make in person with a smile and good nature come across unfriendly or antagonistic when simply read as text on a computer screen. We need to remember when we write messages to do our best to word them in ways that are clear and friendly. In addition, when we read messages, it always helps to read them erring on the side of assuming the person who wrote it meant it in a kind way.
We need to also remember that the leadership in Underground Theater are an important part of our community, and that they are doing a very difficult job. They are volunteers, but they are charged with making decisions that are best for the overall organization, and not for any one individual player, storyteller or troupe. This means that sometimes there may be a decision that you disagree with, or that may seem bad for your individual troupe but is good for the overall health of the organization.
The Board does want to know your thoughts, and they take them very seriously. But, when you send them private messages, emails or post about it on Facebook, remember that they do read what you wrote, even if you don’t know it. If you call them horrible names or say they are “stupid,” it truly hurts their feelings (and makes them less inclined to hear your argument). The leadership of Underground Theater is made of people who care, and we should always work to treat them with respect and friendliness, even when airing disagreement.
It’s Not James Davey’s Fault
On that same note, remember that the Board of Directors all have individual roles to play in the leadership of Underground Theater, and they each must represent UT in their respective venues. When you dislike a Board decision, never assume that the board member who announced it is personally responsible for it. That’s rarely the case. The board makes decisions as a group, nearly always by vote. I know personally, I have acted as Communications Director and announced, explained and defended policies and rules that I disagreed with and voted against. My role, however, is to represent the Board and UT when we communicate. The same is true of the President, the Vice President, the Ombudsman and all of the other Board of Director members. Don’t shoot the messenger! We are all just doing the work we volunteered for as best we can.
Think Faster Than You Type
Finally, if something has you riled or upset, stop typing. I’m terrible at this. It’s so easy to fire back responses to things you’re passionate about because… well… you’re passionate about it.
When a post leaves you excited, angry, happy or mad and you need to respond to it, take a moment and think about your response. If you need to type your initial response to get it out of your system, do so – but don’t send it. Wait an hour or two. Game doesn’t move at the speed of light, so you don’t need to either. This time is healthy for you because it will allow you to compose or recompose your thoughts in a better way, with more respect and friendliness than your initial blurted response might. It also gives others a chance to be a part of the conversation before you shut it down or you shove it forward.
Think about what kind of communicator you want to be and how it will affect you and the gaming community we are building. If you wouldn’t say it in person to that person’s face, maybe you shouldn’t be typing it, either.
Director of Communications