When do you speak up and when do you walk away?
For so many of us, Facebook is a great way to stay connected with family, friends, and acquaintances. A place to discover different worldviews and discuss a variety of topics. A place to share thoughts, photos, and little bits of our lives.
Recently I expressed a different opinion from a friend on a topic she posted on Facebook. I am a bit outspoken about my opinions. I endeavour to be respectful, stick to the issues, and have meaningful debates.
I ended up being called negative, snooty, “high and mighty” and always think I’m right, and sheltered. We have been on opposite sides of issues before.
So, I went back and reread my original comment. I tried to look at it from her side. Maybe my comment was a bit flippant. That wasn’t my intention, but the written word sometimes comes across differently than the writer intends.
Based on our history, I replied that since it was apparent that we wouldn’t be able to have a discussion on controversial topics, I would no longer read or reply to those. And then I logged off and went about my day. I chose to walk away.
Since it was a public post, others jumped into the conversation (most of which are people I don’t even know). Many disagreed with her viewpoint, and from what I gather responded strongly, partly fuelled by the earlier parts of the conversation. The original poster sent a private message to one of the respondents. This made it’s way to me.
Here it is.
poor little retarded fat girl stay off my page your age is showing
How did she think this was ok? How many other messages did she send? How often does she do things like this? This is when I do feel “high and mighty”. This is in no way acceptable. How many people receive messages like this every day? How many stay silent? This is when I feel I need to speak up.
Eventually she deleted all the replies. When I became aware of the situation later in the day, I was appalled. I then saw that she named me in a post, blaming me for the controversy and calling me a liberal (as an insult), and a bully. I gave no response. I chose to walk away. By the next morning, that topic was deleted as well.
I’m sure there are many of us who have had similar experiences online. How do you react? Fight or Flight?
I feel compelled to talk about it. To share the experience. To draw attention to what goes on behind the scene. Bringing it out into the open sometimes can help others know that they are not alone if they ever are on the receiving end of such vitriol.
This was all a good reminder to me that:
- If you don’t want to hear different opinions, don’t post controversial topics. Not everyone will agree with you, and some may let you know it.
- There are those that, no matter how politely you state your opinion, will see it as an attack on them. They are unable to differentiate between the issue and the personal.
- Sometimes it’s best to just ‘walk away’.
- Don’t feed the “trolls”. Sometimes the best response is no response.
- People are not always what they appear to be online – some are kinder than they are in person, and some are nastier.
- There are a lot of good people out there who will jump in and try to stick up for someone they feel is being attacked.
- If you feel a strong emotional response to something you see, take a deep breath, and really think about if you want to engage in a conversation or argument.
- Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma, mom, or children to see.
It’s ok to disagree! It’s not ok to belittle, call people names, or send hateful messages. Ever.