One of the things i find most satisfying about social media are the diverse connections that can be made. The free exchange of ideas. But sometimes people make the mistake of thinking we have to all be of the same mind when expressing our opinions. And when the opposite occurs rather than be of the mind that we needn’t all be in lock-step, some take that as a signal to say rude and/or hurtful things. Also some confuse opinion with opposition or worse yet fact. Often an opinion is simply that.
There are times when opinion can in fact be supported by a fact and that is not a bad thing, but some misperceive it to be—a bad thing. In my observation this can result in one of 4 things:
1. People agree to disagree & remain civil toward each other & move on to other neutral topics of discussion.
2. People make the decision to distance themselves from the poster in the form of muting, blocking, unfollowing or progressively making all of those moves.
3. Self-monitoring where they don’t weigh-in on a discussion because it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
4. Becoming a troll.
Clearly of these choices the fourth outcome is the least desirable.
My M.O. is to not tweet, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc when peeved. Deep breath in, deep breath out, and take a moment or sometimes an hour or sometimes a day before engaging if something makes me hot under the collar. If it’s that important of a topic it will still be relevant when you decide to come back to it. If it’s not you’ve lost nothing by not putting in your 2 cents. It’s easier to not say something rude if you take the time to ask yourself does it really need saying. Every thought needn’t be expressed, even if you feel passionately about it. To me this common courtesy theory makes common sense, but you’d be surprised [or perhaps not] how uncommon common courtesy can sometimes be.
It’s equally important to acknowledge when you feel positive about something. Saw a feel-good post? Let the poster know and thank them for not only making your day better but for sharing good news. Maybe you’re on the receiving end of a #ShoutOut Don’t hesitate to say thank you to someone who took the time to encourage your efforts.
Getting back to when you may not have a warm & fuzzy feeling about a post. You needn’t be in agreement with everyone and everything you encounter on the world wide web. That just wouldn’t be healthy. What a dull cyber world it would be if we were all of the same thought on every topic. But before you hit send, take a moment and decide; is what you’re about to pound out on the keyboard something you wish to have indelibly recorded for the world to see.
If after a reasonable time of reflection you still want to express your thoughts, by all means have at it. But before you do, keep in mind: while they may be rare in some circles, manners do and always should matter.
Contributer sookietex is a blogger/freelance photo-journalist & social media enthusiast