So many things are being posted this week, especially on Twitter and Facebook, about the Women’s March on Washington, and Trump’s Inauguration. These topics have obviously opened a lot of communication online, and in person, at the marches, and places such as work, coffee shops, and home.
No matter who people voted for, most people have a lot of thoughts, feelings, and opinions about these topics. It goes without saying, that many posts and online exchanges are angry and disrespectful of others’ opinions. Money Crashers blogger, Brian Martucci advises, in his Social Media Etiquette Tips, “Don’t be reactive.” Responding to an angry tweet the moment you see it may seem like the best way to handle the situation at first. On the other hand, a knee-jerk reply to an angry post may lead to an angry back and forth exchange.
Whenever you see a new post on social media… take a moment to read it and think about it before responding. Why would that person post that? What thoughts and feelings might have led that person to type that? If the other person is a stranger, you may have almost no idea why he or she posted certain words or images. Thinking things through may prevent the interaction from becoming increasingly negative.
Granted, you may see words or images that you do not like. One of the most effective ways you can communicate with others is to let them express their opinions, even if you disagree. Extending respect and tolerance to others’ views online is a key component to gaining a broader sense of what other people mean, and where they are coming from.
It is fine (and likely) that you will still disagree with many statements made online and in personal interactions. The important thing is to distinguish between agreeing with someone, and showing respect or tolerance for them and their viewpoints. As much as we may want to, we cannot magically make others understand us. We cannot force people to like us or agree with us. Besides, you do not want anyone to try to force you to believe things you do not.
In the end, you may not be able to bridge the gap between diametrically-opposed points of view. If you extend an open mind, you may find ways to open lines of polite discourse on topics without discussions dissolving into senseless banter. At a minimum, you may gain a better view of what is going on around your community and the world.