Something has been bouncing around in my brain today. How do you treat someone, online or "IRL", that has very recently come into your universe? Let me give you a "for instance". Let's say you belong to a group of "regulars - and maybe a few "irregulars" ;) - at your friendly neighbourhood coffee house. You all get along, you may differ in opinions on varying topics, but as a whole there is an air of respect and general friendliness. Now one day you're sitting there with your newest cup o' calories, and in walks someone new. It's a public coffeehouse, nothing you can do even if you wanted to. Newbie McNewPerson ponies up at the counter, and brings their coffee - and commentary - into your already established group.
How does this scene play out? Are you the type to think of this latest joiner as simply a friend you haven't yet met? Or are they a tresspasser who must prove themselves worthy of inclusion? I've discovered that most will fall into a "gray area". They say - it all depends on how the new person acts, and reacts to the origional group. I know some who would land like a bomb among packing peanuts in a situation like this. You know the type - loud and boisterous, they have an opinion on EVERYTHING, and they are not afraid to share it. People like this tend to over-share their opinions, ie. "YOU'RE wrong, I'M right, and if you don't agree then I'm just going to steamroll over you." On the opposite end of the spectrum, we've got the type who will pull up a chair to the outer circle and simply take it all in. Get a feel for the group before getting right into the thick of things. Do you treat these types of people differently? Or was your answer secret option 3 - move your coffee group to someplace that WAS private and exclusive, and be done with newcomers all together?
I suppose my real question is, do people have to BE LIKE you for you to LIKE them? Me - I'm more like the quiet addition. I like to scope out a scene before I throw my hat in the ring. Therefor, I tend to have a higher tolerance for these kinds. While I don't neccessarily have a problem with Bomb People, I tend to be quicker to judge them, and that first impression can be difficult to overcome. Luckily for me, Bomb People seem to dissappear as quickly - and flamoyantly - as they arrived. The once-quiet ones don't get the immediate attention that Bomb People do, but when you do notice them, it seems like they've always been a part of things. Bomb People are great for a heated debate, but it generally ends with hard feelings all around, and reorganization of the group hierarchy undoubtedly follows. Those who have taken the time to become ingrained into the group have built up respect to and for their fellow people, and debates tend to be lively without being degrading. Bomb People NEED to be right, and they NEED to be right RIGHT NOW. Their more mellow, laid-back counterparts can (and do) enjoy the trading of ideas and perspectives without being personally offended when someone doesn't share their viewpoint. Now, I'm not saying I immediatly write off anyone who blows into my life like a hurricaine, but I've found that those with staying power are the ones who are able to appreciate the getting there.
I have plenty of "Bomb" friends, but those are the friends who are only good for one tiny aspect of my life. My Shopping Bomb. My Political Bomb. My Bar Bomb. My nearest and dearest are multi-faceted, and can relate to me on more levels - as a mommy, a young woman, a 9-5'er. These are the ones I can picture in my life in 5, 10, 15 years. Bombs have no "give", and you need give to grow.
So sit back, relax, take in the scenery. Learn everything you can before declaring yourself a master on your choice topic. Remember, it is he who knows most who knows best - not he who is loudest.
And do it over a Venti, two-shot, extra-hot, full fat, full sugar, no-foam latte with whipped cream and caramel drizzle. ;)