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Tips for using RV forums, blogs, and social media

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No doubt about it! The internet is great if you’re an RVer. We follow many online forums, blogs, newsletters, and social media sites for maintenance tips, campground referrals, and all kinds of information about the RV life. There’s just one problem. Civility. Why does the nicest, most helpful RVer suddenly turn rabid when posting on the internet? Perhaps we all could use a few tips for using RV internet sites with civility.

Community

One reason for joining an RV online group is community. Reading about fellow “RV road warriors” can be informative as well as encouraging. Learning about how other folks follow their RV dreams can inspire our own RV journey. The feeling that “we’re all in this together” makes unexpected trouble seem more manageable—especially when others offer good advice, words of sympathy, or even empathy, like: “That happened to us, too.” “Don’t give up.” “You’ll get through this!” “Keep movin’ on down the road.”

Rules

The rules for online engagement are blurry, at best. Yes, there’s usually a moderator who silences profanity or illegal activity. Other than that, participating online is pretty much a Wild, Wild West, take no prisoners, toughen up or shut up proposition. I’m all for the free exchange of ideas and opinions. I just wish these could be expressed with more grace.

Words

As a writer, I know that words can either be your friend or foe. Words alone—even carefully crafted words—often do not clearly convey actual feelings or the intended meaning. The tone of voice, facial expression, and body language matter. These crucial elements for communication are impossible to see when the iPad, computer, or cell phone screen is limited to simple words.

For example, someone answered a recent forum question with, “We’ve had this same question over and over again! Look it up! I’m sure you’ve heard of Google!”

The problem

Knowing that words alone are limited when communicating online should make all of us more mindful of the words we choose. Sadly, that’s not usually the case. How do I know? Because I’m seeing more and more posts like this:

“Please be kind. I’m new at this.”

“Excuse me, please, if this has been asked in the past…”

“I don’t ask questions on this post anymore because I’m tired of being shamed. Excuse me for not knowing! I’m new at this!”

So much for community, huh?

What to do?

First, if a question or comment gets you riled up, think before you post. Remember: You are not required to give voice to your opinion. You’re free to move along. (And take that snark with you, please.)

Secondly, if you have a helpful reply, state it objectively. No need to question the motive or IQ of the one posing the query.

Lastly, remember that you, too, were once a “newbie.” You had questions, too. Put yourself in the other RVer’s shoes before you feel inclined to judge. Use grace. Civility.

Hope for us all

The following post sums up what I’ve been trying to say. Take a look and consider the advice, as well.

This forum is an exchange of ideas, questions, thoughts, and so forth. What good would this platform be if we said, “Look it up first. If there is no answer, then ask.” Good Lord, there would be no communication for weeks or even months!

When we started our RV journey several years ago, I asked the dreaded question, diesel versus gas. People were nice enough to respond even though it has been asked in every way possible for probably the last 20 years. My point is, most of us are an inviting group and don’t mind the repeated questions. We simply smile, understand the person asking is very new, and try to help as much as possible.

Amen!

Comments? Please sound off below—kindly, of course.

More from Gail:

##RVDT1976

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Leon
1 month ago

Well said. As a newbie (first year, with a TT) I try to research FB group (and other forums) posts first. But not finding an answer or needing more information about my unique situation, then I post. I have gotten some great help! But what irritates me are the sarcastic replies. You don’t HAVE to reply to any posting. If someone has helpful info, please do. If not, just pass by without a comment please.

Stephanie
1 month ago

I have always tried to have the mindset of “contributing to solution” and not “becoming the problem” so I adopt that mentality in my responses in forums and other personal interactions with other campers/RVers. Actions out of love and acts of random kindness go a long way. P.S. Not all people on social media are savvy in searching for answers to questions already asked, there is a learning curve in that skill set.

DW/ND
1 month ago

Perfect commentary Gail! Long overdue. I think a lot of problems come from the facts you noted about facial expressions, voice inflections etc, etc, are missing from the forum format. When we speak face to face we know these things about the other person or persons and we can interpret the meaning and demeanor. Never the less your article is right on target – and I am sure Johnny Robot didn’t write it !!!

Cat
1 month ago

We’ll said, Gail! Civility and tolerance is sadly lacking in our country today. Teaching these skills starts at home when kids are little and they need good role models to mimic. Politeness and manners is a good start. Hating is just a waste of energy and oxygen and gets us nowhere. Put those resources to good use to improve society in a lasting way…start at home first.

Suru
1 month ago

So true and well said! I recently posted on FB about some bad neighbors. I was called an”entitled brat,” a “Karen,” and some other choice names. Responses were split about 50/50 between commiserating with me and calling me a whining intolerant complainer. One good thing about FB is you can delete your original post and it all goes away 😁. As far as people asking the same questions over & over again just scroll by if you don’t want to help. I have received so much help from people on social media that I always try to pay it forward and respond if I have the answer.

Drew
1 month ago

Agree entirely. There are some (more lately) who ask a question and then berate the person answering–as if it wasn’t the answer they were seeking.

Warren G
1 month ago

Thank you for this! It’s needed!

Don H
1 month ago

Well said! We all need to remember that it’s another human being at the other end of the question, and answer as if that person is a friend of ours…

littleleftie
1 month ago

Bravo! Truer words were never spoken. Civility is sorely lacking in our so-called “modern society”. Bring back the good ol’ values of manners and respect.

RallyAce
1 month ago

A couple of the car related forums I follow have the same issues. I have learned that it is related to two things, one is that the newbies don’t know how to search the forum, and the moderators should make it easy to find out how to perform a search. The second is that the forums have arrogant, self proclaimed experts, who generally know less than the newbie, that have no problems belittling them as it makes them feel superior. As a moderator on another forum we just block the jerks for 30 days and let them know they need to cool off. Most of the time they just leave the forum which is good for all of us.

Lisa Adcox
1 month ago

I see the negative post quite often when someone ask a question many have seen before. It is very easy to scan in by that answer negatively. I know I asked questions that have been asked before. It’s sad how mean people can get behind the keyboard..

Mary
1 month ago

Well said

Jay Southward
1 month ago

Well said.I too was new at one time but was lucky that my oldest brother was a full timer. Had a good idea what our new to us but used motor coach, could become. No question, no matter how many times I’ve heard it, is not a dumb question. As a trainer for a small trucking company when I heard negative comments on my trainees minor attempts of backing a big rig, I would let those on the CB know that they were newbies themselves. Of course you can imagine the comment’s we received. I’ve helped those at the Camp grounds that needed help and I’ve asked for help. In my almost 5 years RVing not one negative remark. As Louis Armstrong once said “What a wonderful World”. Well not always. Keep on trucking. 10’s and 8’s to ya!

Rock & Tina
1 month ago

One more “what to do.” If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess, just move on. This is especially true for electrical or propane issues. Your “guess” could do much more harm than good.

Gail
1 month ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

Absolutely right, Rock and Tina! Thanks for the reminder!

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