Wise words from an almost adult: How to disagree on social media

Anna Wagner

In lieu of some discussion-worthy events that ensued during the summer months such as the Trayvon Martin verdict or the Rolling Stone’s “The Bomber” cover, people have been posting their opinions all over social media platforms.

In the social media universe, there are a plethora of opinions to process. Some opinions may preach to the choir or boil blood. Either way speaking your mind is completely OK, and should be encouraged, rather than shunned.

I’ve done my fair share of Internet debating, whether it’s with friends on Facebook or complete strangers on Twitter. There’s a difference between being a social media scholar and a complete Internet idiot.

Normally, these annoying, infuriating and sometimes even hurtful comments are of no help for the opposing argument. In fact, it just makes social media annoying for the rest of us opinionated great debaters of the Internet world.

Debating keeps your mind healthy; and creating respectable arguments is a skill that will often come in handy. It is great practice for the professional world. If you want to polish your social media presence for when you face the big, scary working world, keep these tips in mind.

1. Do your research and show sources. If you’re going to start an Internet debate with someone, make sure you get your facts straight. Be specific, add evidence and have conviction.

2. Don’t name call. We all should be able to partake in a debate and kindly disagree with someone without taking it personally. Instead of passing judgement on a person’s intellect, why not inform them of why you disagree in a respectful way? The only thing name calling will do is make you seem ill informed.

3. Don’t take another opinion so personally. There are so many different types of people in the world. Some people will have marginally different opinions than you, just let it be. Just because someone has an opinion that is different than yours does not mean they are terrible people, it just means that you disagree on certain issues.

4. The worst offense yet is complaining about people being too political or opinionated on various social media sites. This particularly irks me because the whole point of social media is to communicate ideas. Opinions are everywhere, deal with it. How can people relate to you if you do not have opinions?

The beauty of social media is that we can choose to read it or scroll over it. We have a choice of whether or not to comment or to inform or ignore.