Why You Should Never Ar­gue on Face­book

So­cial me­dia is not the best place for dis­agree­ments

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Front Page - BY BROOKE NEL­SON

LET’S BE HON­EST, most of us are guilty of com­mit­ting a so­cial me­dia faux pas or two. But ne­ti­quette ex­perts ad­vise to stay away from the key­board when it comes to hot-but­ton top­ics. It’s not just a sign you’re shar­ing way too much on Face­book; re­search has found you might re­spond dif­fer­ently to an opin­ion you read on­line.

To prove the point, re­searchers at Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley and Univer­sity of Chicago re­cruited 300 vol­un­teers to read, watch or lis­ten to ar­gu­ments about con­tro­ver­sial top­ics. Then they an­swered ques­tions about the opin­ions they dis­agreed with.

The peo­ple who heard or watched some­one talk about op­pos­ing views were less likely to char­ac­terise the speaker as ‘un­in­formed or heart­less’. How­ever, those who read the ar­gu­ments were more dis­mis­sive of the con­trary opin­ions.

Ex­perts chalk this up to per­ceived anonymity of the web. “Peo­ple are a lot bolder on Face­book than they are in real life,” says eti­quette ex­pert Wendy Men­cel. “There is a dis­con­nect be­tween what they write and how it comes across – they for­get their words can of­fend peo­ple.”

In light of these find­ings, the re­searchers ad­vise peo­ple to work out their dif­fer­ences by talk­ing in per­son in­stead of fir­ing up the key­board. While it’s easy for tem­pers to flare over so­cial me­dia, meet­ing face-to­face can smooth out dis­agree­ments and even cre­ate com­pro­mise.

So the next time your fin­gers are itch­ing to join a par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate so­cial me­dia de­bate, con­sider sched­ul­ing a lunch date or phone call in­stead.

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