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Maintaining a community through gratitude and consideration

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Valerio Pennicino

It was about three or four months ago, when I had to hold a relatively uncomfortable team-talk with my football team. The atmosphere that was usually so pleasant in the team, characterized by the hilarious dressing-room banter, had soured somewhat due to the series of negative results at the time.

Unfortunately, people began to turn on one another. Constructive criticism on other players' style of play quickly turned into personal attacks questioning their sheer competence as players. When some players then came to me to voice their displeasure with the situation, I knew it had gone too far and, frankly, I should have taken action earlier in order to prevent the situation from escalating.

Long story short, I held a "clear-the-air" talk with the team and it was a tremendous relief to at least see things calm down a little; we all seemed to understand the need to keep criticism rational instead of letting emotions get the better of us. Alas, it didn't have much of an impact on our results, but at least a degree of respect and fun was reestablished.

Sadly, it seems that history has repeated itself.

You may or may not have noticed that the last few weeks a lot of ill-natured comments have been thrown at fellow bloggers or sometimes even the writers. The internet will always be the internet, and thus trolls will be trolls. But for the approximately five years that I've been a part of this blog, I've been proud of how few trolls exist on this blog. Sure, sometimes emotions run high, like during Juve's Dark Ages (pre-Antonio Conte), our Champions League debacle, and the recent Europa League failure. But I've been grateful to be part of a blog where the people of the community have generally shown fantastic conduct towards one another.

And that brings me to the point of this article — gratitude.

Gratitude for the BWRAO writers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to bring us the Juventus-related news and discussion that we want and need. Gratitude for the fact that we, along with other sites as well, have such a fantastic platform to talk about Juventus with people from all over the world in English. Gratitude for the insights of fellow bloggers who either humor us with their cynical wits (I missed you, Jorid!), give us eloquently-written Primavera updates that aren't easily found online (Grazie, GutterPoet!), share anything interesting or funny about their personal lives, or are simply here to share frustration, joy, sadness, anger, and any mixture of these emotions with when Juventus play.

Not only should we have the dignity and honor to show thanks to the people in our lives who do the hard, dirty work (like the BWRAO writers), but also to those who, thanks to the little things they do, make our lives just that bit less stressful.

In terms of the code of conduct that we have on this blog, I'm not going to (re)state the BWRAO code of conduct because I think that would skew the purpose of this article. Why recite something that can be found through a simple click of the mouse here and that most of us, being reasonable people, should consider as common sense?

This is the opportunity to get bigger, significant message across, one aptly captured here:

"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding... Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits."

Proverbs 17:27 & 18:21

Look, you don't necessarily have to heap empty, phony praise on people, but at least make their lives nicer by not deriding what they do or say. Similarly, it doesn't mean you shouldn't say anything at all, or that you should feel criticized for everything you say. Just please be more thoughtful of what you say, when you say it, and how you say it, not just on the internet but also in your everyday life. As good ol'Donald Draper would say, "If you don't like what they're saying, change the conversation."

Perhaps you think that I write this to censor the content of this blogs' comments or protect my fellow BWRAO writers on the blog from criticism. That, again, would be completely missing the point of this article. No, my friends, I write this because I fear of repeating the same mistake that I committed in my little anecdote in the introduction to this article. I don't want to see the atmosphere of a blog I've participated with for so long, one that I've been so immensely proud to be a part of, a community that I've grown so fond of and that has given me so much to cry, celebrate, laugh and about, turn nasty because we've stopped respecting one another and have become inconsiderate in what we say.

As a closing thought, my fellow Juventini, I would like to ask you all to try to remember why you became part of this blog in the first place, what it is that makes you return here, and why you like this community the way you do. Then, do everything in your power to keep it that way for as long as possible.

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."
The Dalai Lama*

*I don't recall which Dalai Lama said it, but as an interesting side-note, I found out that the current Dalai Lama had a guest-lecture at my university the other day (I was wondering why there was so much traffic that day). And the next day Ryan Giggs was apparently in Noordwijk, which is about 25 minutes from my house. What's next, Del Piero as delivering my mail?