My former colleague Andrea Weckerle is organizing a fundraiser to build a Civilination Academy for Online Conflict Management. She asked me to help, given my past history, and of course I am delighted, so welcome to the second Punish Geoff Fundraiser: Civilination!
I have struggled with civility since I started blogging in 2006, and began openly discussing the matter over the past two years. For the most part I have overcome my mouth, though there is always progress to be made.
I don’t want to preach. So the above video tells you why I made the moves, mostly out of a desire to become a better man, but also a result of consequences.
Below I explain why I am supporting Andrea’s cause and think you should, too. And last but not least are the incentives, a $1000 match, and the yet to be mentioned punishment for reaching my goal of $5000.
Why an Academy?
A lot of people think civility means the nice police, and I have said as much in the past. However, I now realize this is not at all true,. It’s more of a rationalization that I used to justify hard shots.
Civility, just like civilization, is derived from the Latin word, civilis, which means of or pertaining to citizens or public life. While civil conversations are polite, it is because they are for public consumption in larger communities.
In my mind, discourse of opinion should be waged without assassinating character. Frankly, rough characters assassinate their own reputations well enough without the help of name calling and vigilante muckraking. A skilled communicator should be able to make a point without a Howard Stern shock jock style.
It took me a couple of years, but I learned how to levy points without calling out names or smearing wholesale belief systems. I wage public discourse using pause mechanisms when I am angry, by thinking through points on a greater level, exiting conversations that become too toxic, and frankly by insisting on additional editing to work through harsh points.
The Civilination Academy is intended to be a resource for everyone online, everyday Internet people, family, friends, business executives, experienced professional communicators, as well as social media and online community managers who are often at the forefront of managing online disputes. Civilination wants to build a library to help people learn how to handle the various misunderstandings, clashes, and reputational hits that occur online. God knows all of us who work online deal with these situations regularly.
I love this idea, and wish such a resource had been available to me when I made my decision to become more mindful in my speech.
OK, What’s the Punishment?
When I first came up with Punish Geoff, it was a sideways acknowledgement of my civility issues. Today it’s to champion mindfulness, and I am quite happy about that.
During the original fundraiser, I ended up dressing in drag as a punishment. And after asking my Facebook community, it seems folks wanted a redux, not just for a 30 minute hangout, but for a full day.
Well, a full day in drag and endless photos published on the Internet that I will never be able to live down is going to cost you. If we raise $5,000 in your donations by the end of the week, I will go to work a full day in drag. Yeah.
In addition, I will personally match the first $1000 in donations. Finally, anyone who donates $100 and emails me the receipt to geoffliving [at] geofflivingston [dot] com will get an autographed copy of my first novel Exodus as soon as they ship. These incentives are in addition to Andrea’s rewards for various donations. That same $100 will get you a second autographed copy of her book, Civility in the Digital Age.
So what are you waiting for? Donate now and PUNISH ME!