This past week there was a bit of a furor over in the Evenstar Knit A Long group on Ravelry. One of the members started a thread in which they expressed their frustration with the pattern and the process, even stating that she didn't think that she should have to pay to be a test knitter. There have been a few hiccups, this is Susan's first mystery shawl, but it has not been excessive. A lot of the other members rallied to Susan's defense, but the damage of that initial post was still done. I agree that we all have a right to our opinion, and a right to free expression, but I don't think that it is polite to air grievances in public until you have addressed them to the merchant first and given them a chance to respond. It is far too easy to vent on these electronic forums (Facebook, Twitter, Ravelry, etc.), posting in the heat of the moment and forgetting how broad an audience your words may have, and how much harm (both psychological and material) they may do to the target of your post.
I admire Susan greatly, both as a designer and as a person. Her blog (A Few Stitches Short) is a wonderful read, both for the pattern news and the life lessons. I did not weigh into the discussion on Ravelry because once these things get started I think it is best just to walk away from them. Responding only provides more fuel for the fire, regardless of your intentions. But it saddened me and I think that it is an indication of the corrosive effect that the electronic age is having on our social relations. The internet is a mixed blessing. It broadens our horizons immeasurably, giving us incredible access to information and ideas, but it also isolates us and insulates us from human contact. We must always remember that there are human beings on the other side of the electronic link, and give them the consideration that they are due.