We’ve all seen it happen: a comment is made on Facebook and someone jumps in to oppose it. Suddenly, a rude statement is made and things rapidly escalate. Next minute, the insults are flying.
At any one time, there are a million conversations occurring in the online world across a broad range of topics, issues and themes. Everyone wants to have their opinion heard, especially on issues about which they feel passionate. People from all walks of life contribute to these conversations on social media, blogs and website message boards. Sometimes, in our efforts to express ourselves and have our opinions heard, we make the mistake of devaluing someone else’s contribution. Sometimes, it’s our opinion that’s been devalued.
Here are three questions to ask before making a comment online:
Why am I adding my comment?
Remember that the internet offers everyone an equal stage from which to voice their opinion. This means that while you’ll find people who share your views, you’re also likely to come across people with ideas that infuriate you. Ask yourself for whom you’re adding the comment. If it’s not for the other person or for other people’s benefits, there’s a chance that your comment won’t be a welcome contribution. You don’t want to appear self-serving so unless your aim is to provide useful conversation, step off the soapbox.
Is my comment helpful?
As the phrase goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Before reacting to a comment online, ask yourself if you have something helpful to contribute; not in a passive-aggressive or backhanded way, but in a genuine sense. Perhaps you disagree with a statement that was made. Can you do this in a way that neutrally challenges the concept without implicating the person’s opinion? You want to weigh up whether adding your comment will benefit the conversation or simply add fuel to the fire. Using evidence, such as reputable news articles, can help.
Am I willing to be proved wrong?
If your comment is helpful and warranted, the final question to ask is whether you’re prepared to be challenged. The internet is a wonderful place to engage with new ideas and have your opinion shifted. If you’re unwilling to see another’s point of view, you may find yourself in some tense situations. Remember that anything you post is immediately open to interpretation. You have to be ready to either stand by your claims or back down when you’ve been beaten. Sometimes, when things have become too heated or you’re outnumbered in the conversation, it may be time to back out gracefully. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.
Which considerations do you make before posting a comment online? Are you ever dissuaded from participating in online discussions because of the potential backlash?
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