Godwin’s Law -
or how not to have a creative online discussion
Posted 1/2/13 by Sharon Ritchey
As I wrapped up 2012, I began researching new words and ideas added to Oxford English Dictionary (OED). I came across Godwin’s Law. This is a term first coined in the 1990s by attorney Mike Godwin, a cool guy worth spending a few minutes learning about. Godwin theorizes that any online discussion of sufficient length, and participants, will eventually include a reference to Hitler or Nazis.
Shocking? Sadly no. If you spend anytime listening to any news pundits you’ll eventually hear a reference to either. But if OED is adding it to the lexicon that signals a larger problem for me – a lack of creative communication. Without a doubt, the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany are without repute. I feel the historical significance of the Holocaust, WWII, and the Nazi regime should stand alone without comparison. So let’s stop comparing. Let’s find new ways to express our disapproval, disgust, and displeasure. Let’s also take a look at netiquette – online etiquette – and realize that if we are about to invoke such powerful references in a discussion perhaps we need to STEP AWAY from the discussion and do something calm-inducing – go pet a puppy.
Let’s make 2013 a creative year. Out of ideas? Go read something – maybe a history of WWII so that you can learn all the reasons why invoking it is just plain wrong.