Sometimes it’s hard to fight temptation.
You see something in the comments section that is so ignorant, so outrageous; you feel personally offended by the person who left the comment.
You can’t let this person off the hook.
You have to get them!
You must win the argument.
And that’s how many feel in this situation; they have to come out on top.
I used to be that guy in college. I was going to battle with everyone on Instagram who had different views than mine. If you went against my beliefs, I’d let you know why you were wrong. My specialty was leaving sarcastically crafted comments for strangers with pro-gun views.
I was the one in the wrong.
The more I argued with others on platforms like Instagram, the less I was getting done, the less happy I was, and the more isolated I felt. I realized I wasn’t learning or gaining value from engaging in a war of words with others online. What positives did I gain?
I don’t know.
Maybe the feeling of winning or the sense of being on a team?
Even when I felt like I came out on top, I was feeling terrible.
And that’s because…
THERE ARE NO WINNERS TO ARGUING ONLINE.
It’s an unimportant fruitless endeavor that further erodes your mind and compassion towards people.
Social media battles are ugly, and right now, it feels like there’s an online civil war, and I’m actively deciding not to participate.
And, I’m asking you to do the same.
No matter what you believe in, there’s no excuse for attacking others online.
While hurling insults and making threats crosses the line legally, that’s secondary, as common decency and respect should always be present when exchanging ideas. Unfortunately, it’s not; this Pew Research survey found that 59% of U.S. teens have experienced some form of online harassment and civil discord seems more hostile each day.
And according to a study done by John Suler, the internet is making you meaner!
So, I’m actively choosing not to participate.
I don’t want to be meaner! I care about my mental health, and I’m concerned for yours too.
Engaging others in cynical discussions online doesn’t just make you more malicious; there are other adverse side effects as well:
- Wasted time
- Further real-word isolation
- Affect your ability to think independently
- Gain a jaded perception of others
- Loss of sleep
- Can lead to real-life violence
And you’re probably thinking, “But Justin, does that mean I can’t engage with anyone online?”
Not at all! When done correctly, online political conversation can be a tool for learning, so next time, if you do decide to leave a comment, keep this in mind:
THE GOLDEN RULE SHOULD ALWAYS APPLY.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a room with someone or not; the golden rule should always apply when interacting with another person; you should always act with proper etiquette.
According to Oxford Languages, etiquette is:
“The customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.”
The more recently created ‘netiquette’ means abiding by that code, but online.
Consider the other person when you’re communicating. Empathy and compassion aren’t signs of weakness but rather a sign of strength.
THINK ABOUT HOW YOU’RE SPENDING YOUR TIME.
Do you feel good about how you’re spending your time?
If you are, great, but if not, try mixing things up. Remember, you have a finite number of days on Earth and a limited amount of time each day.
Are you getting things done?
Do you feel like you spend your day working towards something you enjoy, or do your days seem a little disjointed and go by in a blur?
Social media is addictive, and it’s made to be.
Sometimes it’s better to take a break and reflect.
For me, I felt like I wasn’t taking active participation in my life. I was a viewer, an audience member. I’d watched something unfold and then argued with someone on the sidelines because our opinions disagreed.
You can change. I changed. Writing is something I never thought I’d have the courage to do.
If you feel yourself getting caught up in social media arguments:
- Consider the other person, their perspective, and their feelings.
- Remember that YOU are the most important thing in your life.
Be the best version of yourself possible; that’s how you’ll positively impact the world!
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