Social Networking: How It Can Go Wrong and What You Can Do About It
No matter where you look, there’s always an opportunity to utilize social networking. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, blogs—no matter the medium, social networking allows the sharing of information between people. Whether it’s pictures, videos, or articles, just about any sort of content you can imagine can be made available for your viewing and listening pleasure. With all this exchange of information, people can and do post their opinions about what others have shared.
Get Likes in a Respectful Way
In a perfect world, every post and status update would receive a ton of “Likes” and positive feedback, and so would the posts of everyone you know and love. But, alas, the world is far from perfect. People have opinions, and often very strong ones. And these opinions don’t always get expressed in the most respectful or politically correct ways.
You might read a post or article and find yourself disagreeing with a few of the points the author made. Or someone might post a less-than-positive response to content you’ve written or shared. In either case, you have one of three options. You can:
- Avoid posting a response
- Respond in a way that isn’t offensive
- Fan the flames
Obviously, you don’t want to fan the flames, so the first two options are definitely more attractive. With social networking sites, you can technically respond to whatever you want as long as you don’t violate the site’s terms of service. Understand that freedom of speech is real, but with great freedom comes great responsibility. Know that your opinions aren’t universal, no matter how strongly you hold on to them. Not everyone agrees that the 80s were the best decade of fashion, or that the season finale to your favorite TV was disappointing.
You basically want to avoid abusing your social networking rights. You don’t want to share anything that promotes hate or any kind of racial, gender, or religious bias. If you do, you’re likely to offend people and possibly find yourself right in the middle of an unnecessary cyber fight.
Sometimes it’s Better to Take the Conversation Offline
Just recently, I posted a Facebook status I thought was pretty innocuous. A friend of mine strongly disagreed with the content of my message. But instead of passionately expressing his outrage in the comments area, he kindly sent me a text and engaged me in a friendly discussion about why he disagreed. It was an enlightening conversation, one that he respected me enough as a friend to have privately.
If someone is posting material you find offensive or strongly disagree with, you can bring it up in a respectful way, either within the social medium or offline (as my friend did). As a last resort, you can adjust your account settings so you don’t see their posts, and you can even delete the connection to that person altogether. (Obviously, the latter works better if you don’t have an emotional investment in the person. You wouldn’t want to necessarily ban your mother or significant other from your life because of something they wrote on social media.)
Engaging in an insult-laden tit-for-tat shouting match not only makes the other person look bad—it makes you look bad too, especially those connections who might be reading the conversation. And as the old saying goes, you can disagree without being disagreeable. Happy social networking!
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