For many of us, social media isn’t just used to connect with friends and colleagues across the globe, it’s also our platform of choice when we want to make ourselves heard. While it can be good to express ourselves and hear from people who think differently, sometimes it can get a bit heated. So from one opinionated person to another, here are some tips to make for smoother, less temperamental sailing on the interwebs:
1. Think before you speak — really
Being behind a screen means that you can actually buy yourself time to carefully think about what you want to say! This means that you have more of an opportunity to think of how you can communicate your message in the best tone and style possible. You also have more time to understand what someone actually means to say.
Not only are you then more likely to express yourself clearly, but you’ll also have time to cool off if someone writes something that really bugs you. This means that you will minimise the chance that you will say something you will regret, and that’s good because you probably don’t want to write paragraphs apologising for going on a rampage and/or explaining how you were misunderstood. Which brings me to the next point…
2. Be clear
Dr Suess made a good point when he said “say what you mean, and mean what you say,” and it’s totally relevant for social media, and the internet in general. It’s hard as it is always nailing what people mean when they speak to us face to face, let alone with the added difficulty of not being able to rely on physical cues or tone of voice.
Although we cannot always avoid misunderstanding — and as a result, conflict — we can do our part by wording our messages as clearly as we can to minimise the chances of any of those things happening.
3. Avoid subtweeting, subposting or subanything-ing
Subtweeting, or subposting in any other social media platform, is the act of posting something (usually negative) alluding to a particular person, but without mentioning their name. Don’t do it, and don’t engage when someone else does.
Not only does it look juvenile and petty, but it doesn’t solve the problem you have with the person. Trust me on this one. All you will probably accomplish is attracting a gaggle of negative comments that fuel the frustration you are already feeling. It’s wasted energy that comes at the expense of your inner peace; and nothing is worth that, even if you have a point.
4. Walk away
You can’t control or change what everyone is saying or doing, but you can control how much you let it affect you. Not only are you free to decide what you want to engage with, but also how much you engage with it. Just because there’s an impassioned debate about something you care or know a lot about, it doesn’t mean you need to stay in it until it ends with your word.
It’s also perfectly okay to decide what you don’t want to see at all in the first place, and hide content you find inflammatory or even distressing. You are also well within your rights to mute/unfollow the well-meaning relative/friend who insists on posting misinformation to show “an alternative point of view”. People will believe and think what they want, and your self-care comes first.
What tips do you have for more AND less opinionated people on social media? Share them in the comments!