Our Facebook timelines are usually an assortment of people complaining, excessive animal photos, the same viral videos from sixteen different people, humble-brags, and news-worthy political arguments. It’s incredibly healthy that we’ve become a generation that’s taken the confidence-behind-the-keyboard principal of cyberbullying and transformed it into a tool for debating about topics we feel passionately about. Sharing our thoughts and opinions are what make us feel heard, understood, and accepted in a world wide web of confusion, but there is a right and wrong way to go about it, no matter what your argument is.
1. Take the time
Before you jump the gun, read any linked articles and all the comments already posted. By being informed of the opinion and content already shared, you can properly contribute your piece. If needed, do a small amount of research and become familiar with the topic, especially if it involves something you are not well versed in. Don’t forget to spend a moment proofreading your comments before you post them, because nobody takes grammatical and autocorrect errors seriously. Show your confidence in your writing; even if you don’t feel like you’re the best writer, trying your best will show.
2. Be respectful
Do not call people names! This goes beyond the standard negative slang thrown around on the schoolyard. If you’re meaning something to be an insult or derogatory, then it is. Terms of endearment can even be twisted into something hurtful within context. Understand that you and the people in the discussion are all just people, and no matter how mean or wrong they may be, you will make your point better if you are keeping a neutral to positive tone in your word choice.
3. Save the sarcasm
Text does not convey sarcasm well, and it’s very easy for a remark to be taken the wrong way. Arguments can blow up into fights over text sarcasm, and in an otherwise healthy debate, it can be rude. Keep your focus forward.
4. Make your point
Instead of trying to discount what other people are commenting, enforce your idea by showing a strong reasoning. Avoid repeating yourself over and over (but if something you said is being ignored, it’s okay to remind people and reference something in another comment). Remember what your point is and try to stick to it, but if you are swayed by the argument or proven wrong, admit your acceptance. It’s constructive to learn from what other people share.
5. Cite your sources
If you’re going to give facts, make them count and quote your source or provide a link that gives more information. Statistics are great, but there’s a difference between assuming a statistic and actually having one.