These days, it’s downright dangerous to voice an opinion online. It doesn’t matter what your opinion is about. It doesn’t matter if your perspective is negative, positive or neutral. People who know what you’re talking about and people who have no clue whatsoever will congregate upon your opinion and give you grief for it.
Comment sections are hate-filled war zones populated by parasites who feed off of triggering negativity in every form in which it exists. I’ve seen fights break out over the Oxford comma, viral baby videos, cute dog photos, and uplifting news stories about people helping each other through a tough situation.
Sometimes, I chuckle at the stupidity of both (or all) sides of an argument, particularly those of the political variety, at other times, I find that I have to take a break from the Internet lest my head explode.
What baffles me is that it’s so easy to avoid the disgusting, inhumane “discussions” that propagate online if only we’d:
- Politely agree to disagree. In high school, for General Paper, we had to debate for or against different topics. Firstly, we had to know both sides of the argument. Secondly, we had to present the facts in a clear, logical manner. If the other side did a better job with their presentation, we couldn’t shout expletives and insults at them. We had to graciously accept defeat. Pretend that you’re on a debate team the next time you decide to navigate a comment section.
- Learn to walk away. Controversial topics are polarizing by nature. Sometimes we say our piece sensibly and with great flair and the other party still doesn’t get it or refuses to accept our point of view. Instead of becoming increasingly annoyed and run the risk of verbally attacking complete strangers, log out, take a walk.
- Understand that everybody has the right to be passionate about their cause. Now, I’ve found that the result of such passion is usually an onslaught of daily posts about the same issue. Over and over. Please be reasonable or else your followers reserve the right to unfollow you if your constant haranguing is overwhelming.
- Pay attention to what our followers post. Why would you repeatedly tag someone who’s never posted anything about make-up in posts about bronzer and eyeshadow? Don’t be a nuisance.
- Learn to scroll past the stuff that we don’t agree with. People usually arrive at their opinions after a lifetime of experiencing the world their way. Instead of trolling, why not use your body and mind to fight for what you believe in? Volunteer. Write a research paper. Become actively involved in your community. Channel your energy in really making a difference to counteract that opinion you so strongly disagree with.
- Refrain from making intrusive comments which can be quite distasteful and lead to conflict. For instance, if your friend posts a photo of her puppy, “Does your mom still have cancer?” is not an appropriate comment especially if your friend never publicised that information online.
- Mind our own business. If someone posts an image or status and they’ve excluded their location, there’s really no need for you to announce exactly where they are and what you suspect they’re doing. Some people are selective about how they share information online. They don’t need your help in broadcasting their activities. Again, pay attention.
- Conduct ourselves professionally when the situation calls for it. If you’re in a more formal situation, for example, as a customer lodging a complaint on a business account, I don’t care how angry you might be about their product or service, it is unacceptable to cuss out the rep (usually the person at the lowest rung in the corporate ladder) because you want your $5 refunded.
- Avoid non-comments. If you have nothing to say, say nothing at all.
- Take periodic breaks from social media. There’s no harm in filtering the information that you consume. This will help you to restore your peace. We can communicate more politely and calmly with each other if we’re not inhaling venom all the time.
Do you have any additional suggestions for communicating nicely online? Add your tips in the comments.