I think it is safe to say that everyone is online! Many of us keep in touch with friends and family, track our finances, check the headlines, and even shop for clothing, food, and cars! The world is changing and so is the way we as people engage with others. Sadly, some of these changes are not always for the good. Along with the constant threat of posts, comments or even our pages being removed (As The Well Armed Woman Instagram page recently experienced, you can read about it here) makes what we post and how we engage more important than ever.
While the majority of us use social media for keeping in touch the people, groups, and organizations that are important to us, there are others that use it as a tool to lash out and bully others.
People act differently online it seems. It is almost as if their inner monster comes out. What they would never dream to say to someone in-person is now said freely from behind their keyboards. This can not only be infuriating and frustrating, but it can also be hurtful. Let’s take a look at how we can approach this challenging issue.
When reading things online, we may find ourselves making assumptions and those that read your posts are making them as well. While it is easy to write a post or make a comment to illustrate your point, what may not be clear is the intention behind it. What I mean by this is as you are reading a post, your mind automatically assumes what the writer’s intentions are. So, if we agree with the writer, we may start assuming their values align with ours. Now on the flip side, if the author is writing about something we don’t believe in or don’t agree with, the author can start to become our enemy. People tend to assume what the other person’s values are and then begin to lump them into certain stereotypes. They feel that the person is the same as other people that don’t share the same views.
That post you don’t agree with was written or shared by a person. We don’t know his or her feelings or their life experiences, which may be totally different from our own. Because of this, it is important to be mindful of the way we react. The two of you may not see eye-to-eye on some things, but that isn’t necessarily a reason to react harshly. If there is something that doesn’t align with your beliefs, try the following:
- Move past, ignore it, or hide it. Choosing not to engage is not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of individuals on the internet are just looking for a confrontation, so it may be best to ignore it altogether and continue about your day.
- If you are compelled to write a comment, ask yourself if it is constructive. I believe we all must be examples of people of differing opinions having healthy dialogues. Are they misinformed or have they fallen victim to fake news? Try to take the time to educate with your words, don’t type with blind rage.
Lack of consequence
Another reason I think there is so much ugliness online is the lack of consequence. People can say mean or cruel things without consequence. Think about that. When you are interacting in person, you may disagree with something, but you don’t necessarily go ballistic to confront that difference. There may be a physical altercation that could result or you may subject yourself to public humiliation. Instead, you try to approach the disagreement as a conversation and try to de-escalate any misunderstanding and educate the other person instead of lashing out. If you or they were to default to yelling and shouting, consequences would follow. But somehow, these in-person, real-life consequences don’t seem to exist online.
So, what does that mean to you?
Be mindful of how you respond and what you are posting. Trust me, I know how challenging this can be but I am a firm believer that the view is always better from the high road. Also, being mindful, respectful and open-minded, even when it is really hard to do so, sets a wonderful example that not only the person you are responding to sees, but also the hundreds, perhaps thousands of others that might see it.
This doesn’t mean you can never post what you believe in on social media- it just means to think twice about what you are posting and what the outcome may be. Will it bring value? Will it help to educate others? Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it, nor is the anxiety and stress of getting into a battle online.
We live in a very divided time, and you have to think to yourself “Do I want to risk the possibility of starting an online battle from this content I want to share?” “Am I prepared to handle it?”
It is not about bowing down or giving up the good fight. It is about taking the time to consider and weigh the opportunity and the potential consequences. You will reduce unnecessary angst in your life by avoiding the inflated tension. There are groups of people that do not think straight because they let themselves get so agitated online. These people are typing from a blind rage. Do you honestly want to be a part of that?
What I am NOT Saying
I’m not saying that you cannot exercise your beliefs by exercising your right to expression. It’s an important means to show others who you are and what you believe. Now more than ever with the suppression and the censorship of differing views that take place daily online by those that oppose our Second Amendment rights, it is very important that we inform and educate as many people as possible. Just be mindful that we don’t inadvertently participate in anything less than constructive. We must not become that which we protest.
I am concerned that with all of the bullying that goes on online, and in our desire to avoid all of the ugliness and potential consequences it brings, that American patriots like you and I, begin to lose our voice. If you think about it, that is likely the desired outcome of those doing the bullying. Something to think about…