I’ve ‘almost’ written this post so many times. As a fact in itself, this makes me sad.
Each time I’m prompted to write it, I take a step back, and just note it down.
Because I don’t want to make it clear each time exactly what I’m reacting to.
The particular discussion/topic doesn’t actually matter.
What matters are people’s reactions to it.
On the one hand, the blogging/social media world is a tight-knit community.
People make great friendships. People share great content. People applaud one another’s successes.
But every now and then – and unfortunately it’s fairly consistent – there’s drama.
This is to be expected to an extent. After all, no one is happy all of the time, and arguments and disagreements happen.
The majority of the time, people are mature enough to accept that it’s ok to have different opinions.
Sometimes, these opinions are harmful or upsetting to one or multiple people. Sometimes, it’s impossible not to respond.
The problem that I’ve seen time and time again though, is this whole theme of ‘jumping on the bandwagon.’ One person or blogger has an issue with something someone has said, and fifteen minutes later a huge group are venting their outrage.
Up to a certain point, I get it. If someone you respect or get along with points out an issue with a particular things they’ve read, you may well agree with what they say and have issues yourself with that original person’s point.
Unfortunately, plenty of people wade into discussions without having fully understood the discussion or disagreement they are entering into.
The problem with twitter, is there are not many characters in which to say your piece. Tiny snippets of an ‘offensive’ article are tweeted and retweeted for all to see. Totally removed from their context, more and more people vent their outrage, without having any clue about the context in which the points were first made.
I’m sure you’ve had plenty of conversations even just this week which could be heavily misconstrued if a particular person overheard just a sentence of your hour-long conversation.
What happens when people dive on tiny snippets of an argument is a ‘ganging up’ effect. The person in question is hit with a barrage of tweets berating them and slating their opinions before their full opinions are even digested.
Don’t be the one preaching about everyone having a right to voice their opinion, whilst simultaneously directing a torrent of abuse at someone you disagree with.
Sometimes, people do say terrible things, or course they do. Sometimes people’s views are outrageous.
But until you’ve attempted to understand what they’re saying, or at least read the blog post you’re apparently so violently opposed to, keep quiet.
And allow a discussion. If you genuinely disagree with a point, and the original writer comes back respectfully, then be respectful back. Countless times I’ve seen people attempt an apology, but the abuse hurled at them continues.
I’m all for speaking your mind, and letting someone know if they’ve caused you offence. But before you wade in, check you actually know what you’re being offended by.
If you feel very strongly about a certain person or tweeter, you’re allowed to unfollow them. Unfollow or block them, and move on.
Once you’ve declared you’re going to do this, or not ‘give them any more traffic’, stick to what you’ve said and drop it.
Recently, I saw one such ‘online fight’, where one ‘outraged party’ unfollowed the original writer, saying she wouldn’t be wasting any more time on her. And has tweeted about the event continuously since.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, just because you’re typing not speaking, doesn’t mean you don’t have to realise actions have consequences. Words have meanings. Misunderstandings can happen. And just don’t be the one who slates someone for actions you’re actually, in the strength of your opposition, also doing yourself.