I’ve been scolded on social media for complaining about something the reader considered “a first world problem.” In other words, get over it, Antonia, it’s not a big deal. A recent incident was when I was talking about a long and protracted (and upsetting) call I’d had with a call center in India. I expressed on Facebook how I felt bad about ultimately using anger to get what I needed from the call-taker. The sting of being judged by my friend out in the open on social media was harsh. I could have handled her flippant comment better in a private message. She hadn’t communicated with me in months, so I was caught off guard by her criticism. If you accuse me of being a tad sensitive, I will agree with you. But I unfriended her … not in life, just on social media.
It’s not just with me. I see this sort of backlash happening all over social media.
Say It to My Face
Are you using the cover of electronic communication to speak out in a manner you normally wouldn’t? If you were standing next to me, would you say that to my face?
“Oh, chill, I was only kidding,” has been used when comments are called into question. I’ve got news for you: if you’re kidding, the onus is on you to make sure the reader gets that tiny fact. Put “just kidding” at the end or “LOL” or an emoji to signal your frivolity. Keep in mind electronic communication is flat; it doesn’t carry the hand gestures, smiles or head wags that nuance in-person interactions. We’re all so hot to get our response out there, we forget about how it might be taken by a reader.
I believe social media is a great forum for debates and, God knows, we’ve had plenty of opportunity for the exchanging of differing points of view lately. I’m sure we’ve all seen, however, innocent “discussions” that start out as friendly banter and quickly turn into the sparing arena with truly hurtful accusations and condemnations hurled about in the rudest of ways. That has happened to a couple of my posts and, well into the thread, I end up deleting the whole conversation because, even with warnings tossed in, some people can’t back off and play nice.
Remember, no argument or debate has been won by name-calling.
Friends rush in to try to calm things down by posting things like, “Hey, no reason to be mean,” to a thoughtless person. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t.
We Need Civility
I’ve done gobs of dramatic eye-rolls over some acquaintances’ posts on social media. The difference is, I keep my thought to myself. I don’t gossip about it, I don’t wag my finger at it, and I don’t try to be snarky or “cute” in a response all will see.
I was taught to keep my mouth shut if my snarky comments weren’t useful or OBVIOUSLY joking. The question is not whether I think it’s a funny response but rather will my reader know it is.
Please think about how your response might be taken. Others might not be as stalwart as you. It might not be as humorous to the reader.
And, if you see others playing dirty, I say call ‘em on it.
Photo: Jason Howie, flickr