Connecting with other models online is one of the very best ways to share information, get support and increase your visibility. Communicating online, however, is different than communicating IRL. It’s easy to get distracted, discouraged or downright derailed by misunderstandings and perceived negativity.
We need to find strategies to manage our online life so that we get as much out of it as we put in. For instance, when reaching out to other models to ask for help, offer help yourself. Or, take part in a spirited exchange of ideas.
The potential for positive interactions is great, especially with some key ideas about online communication in place. Here are some guidelines to help create a safe and supportive online cam community for everyone.
Don’t Assume, Ask First
We get into all kinds of trouble thinking we know what’s going on with other people online. Folks are busy, they’re distracted, they think they’re being clever. Spellcheck twists our best intentions into gobbledygook. Think of tweets and texts as first drafts — or, better yet, drafts of first drafts.
Rather than getting all whipped up into a lather over something that seems snarky or mean, check in. Be curious. A simple, “Hey, I read what you just wrote, and it sounded like [x] to me. Is that what you meant?” can go a long way to clearing things up and avoiding an unnecessary fight.
Calling People In Rather Than Out
We all mess up at times, saying things that are hurtful or uniformed, especially online where we take shortcuts in our communication. When someone is clearly not trying to be hurtful but says something clueless, think about calling them in before calling them out.
“Calling someone in” is the opposite of publicly blaming, shaming and shunning someone. Calling in is a tool of non-violent communication that operates from the first principle that most people mean well. Ignorant or self-centered behavior can cause harm to others, and these folks need to be held accountable — but sometimes, pointed negativity is not what’s happening. These types of of situations could benefit from calling in.
Calling someone in means explaining to them the impact of their words or deeds, asking them to take responsibility, apologize and, if appropriate, make amends. This process is intended to honor the dignity of everyone involved and, hopefully, to create greater understanding and compassion.
The next time you feel the urge to shout someone down, stop and consider if that’s the best way to make the world a better place.
“Could” Rather Than “Should”
One of the great things about the online sex worker community on platforms like Twitter and Switter is successful folks offering guidance. When blasting out opinions or tips however, be aware that not everyone has the same experience or advantages.
Despite your best intentions, people can feel shamed and shut down when told they “should” do something, especially if they aren’t in a position to be able to do so. It’s gentler to frame your advice as “You could…” or “This is what worked great for me…”
Offer Value In Exchange For Value
As cammers, fans ask us to work for free on a daily basis. It’s really not cool when we treat our fellow models the same way. If someone takes the time to coach you or be a shoulder to cry on when you’re having a rough day, a robust “thank you” is in order, along with an offer of something of value.
You can buy them lunch if you live in the same town, you can purchase them a gift card if you don’t. You can make a donation to their favorite charity. If they won’t accept any payment, that’s fine — there’s no need to override their wishes — but care is a two-way street. Not offering any reciprocation can contribute to their feelings of depletion and burnout.
Finally, notice how being online makes you feel. This sounds simple, but is sometimes hard to do!
All those hours spent online, that’s not fake life — it’s real life. Online interactions contribute directly to our emotional state, and we carry all that outrage, fear and excitement around with us.
This makes setting healthy boundaries on screen time critical. When you start feeling yourself getting wound up, it’s time to step away for a while. Block anyone who doesn’t bring you joy, steer clear of content that drags you down and set limits on how much time you spend online.
Online life will suck you dry if you let it. Abiding by the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — while setting clear boundaries, makes the internet a safer, saner, healthier experience.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself.
Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry, a self-help book for sex workers available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and wherever else ebooks are sold. Get the audiobook version here. Contact Davina at Lola.Davina@ynotcam.com and visit her on Twitter at @Lola_Davina, as well as on Facebook.
Image of Lola Davina courtesy Pat Mazzera.