Why You Should Never Argue on Facebook
Social media is not the best place for disagreements
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.