How to han­dle con­flict on so­cial me­dia

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Technology - By CHRIS­TEN A JOHN­SON

IN the lat­est episode of “What did Kanye West tweet”, the Chicagob­orn rap­per Twit­ter-stormed his 28 mil­lion fol­low­ers, air­ing out his many griev­ances with rap­per Drake.

With roughly 326 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users on Twit­ter – and a whop­ping 1.4 bil­lion daily users on Face­book – it’s fair to say that so­cial me­dia has be­come ubiq­ui­tous within our cul­ture and daily lives.

The pseudo sense of con­nec­tiv­ity it pro­vides can make shar­ing your feel­ings on the plat­forms seem nor­mal. This es­pe­cially rings true for ul­tra so­cial-me­dia-savvy adults ages 18 to 29, 88% of whom use at least one so­cial site, the high­est among any age group ac­cord­ing to a Pew Re­search anal­y­sis.

But is ad­dress­ing a con­flict via so­cial feed truly the best way to reach rec­on­cil­i­a­tion? Likely not.

Suzanne Degges-White, coau­thor of Toxic Friend­ships: Know­ing The Rules And Deal­ing With The Friends Who Break Them, said ap­proach­ing con­flict res­o­lu­tion through so­cial me­dia is harm­ful to in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships.

“So­cial me­dia does not give place for nu­ance, his­tory or cir­cum­stance,” she said. “When you use so­cial me­dia this way, you’re not go­ing to solve any prob­lems, but dig a deeper line in the sand be­tween you and the other per­son.”

Degges-White said most Twit­ter users don’t ex­pect a re­sponse to their tweets, so us­ing the pub­lic plat­form to share pri­vate de­tails op­er­ates more like a mega­phone.

“You’re not al­low­ing for a con­ver­sa­tion to take place,” she said. “It’s kind of you just vent­ing. It’s in­fan­tile, too, be­cause you’re not giv­ing some­one a chance to speak back to you.”

So­cial me­dia is not meant to be a main source of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and per­sonal ex­change, ex­plained Degges-White, but its ease and ac­ces­si­bil­ity can em­bolden peo­ple to use their “Twit­ter fin­gers” be­fore go­ing di­rectly to the source of con­flict.

“Hav­ing to look some­one in the eye, that’s what takes courage,” she said. “On so­cial me­dia, we are in­vul­ner­a­ble and in­vin­ci­ble. It has no pos­i­tive im­pact if you’re re­ally want­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with some­one about some­thing real.”

Degges-White, who is also a pro­fes­sor and chair in the de­part­ment of coun­selling at North­ern Illi­nois Univer­sity, high­lighted three ben­e­fits of face-to-face con­ver­sa­tions – and how to go about them – when try­ing to achieve suc­cess­ful con­flict res­o­lu­tion.

You can ac­tu­ally re­solve the is­sue. “It makes you a stronger per­son to sit through a dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tion,” she said. “Chal­lenge your­self to have a con­ver­sa­tion and to find ways to en­gage. The more you do it, the bet­ter you’ll get.”

You can gain em­pa­thy for the other side. “Be will­ing to lis­ten to the other per­son’s point of view and be ac­cept­ing if their opin­ion dif­fers. If we don’t have con­ver­sa­tions with other peo­ple, we stop grow­ing. The only way to do that is al­low­ing your­self to hear an­other per­son’s side. This deepens your ma­tur­ing in re­la­tion­ships and not only think ‘my way or the high­way’.”

You can learn to be wrong. “When we ad­mit we’re wrong, this is the only way we learn. You don’t re­ally have to learn any lessons from us­ing so­cial me­dia. The point of ed­u­ca­tion is to learn what you don’t know, not val­i­date what you do.” – Tri­bune News Ser­vice


Con­flict res­o­lu­tion through so­cial me­dia is harm­ful to in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships says an ex­pert.

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