Imagine this: You’ve logged onto a social networking site and are checking the updates from the people you follow (most of whom you probably don’t actually know in real life). You see one of them making a statement you disagree with.
Maybe it’s about a sensitive topic such as politics, the economy, reproductive rights, sexual orientation, or parenting. Maybe the person made an dumb joke. Or maybe what they said is, simply put, just ignorant.
Then what happens? Well, if you’re like many people online, you feel offended.
Never mind that the statement wasn’t directed at you. Never mind that it didn’t involve you personally. Never mind that you don’t have a real relationship with the person who said this, or only a shallow fleeting relationship with them at best. You feel as though the statement is a personal affront to you. You feel threatened, even though more likely than not, there isn’t a legitimate reason for this.
Then what do you do? Do you remind yourself that their views are not yours and it’s silly to get so upset? Do you put this person out of your mind and move on? Or do you write an immediate and pointed response, and spend your energy trying to show them why they’re wrong and why you’re right?
In other words, do you let them have power over your emotions and give them more attention than they’re really worth?
Certainly there are times and situations when taking a stand is necessary, brave, and the right thing to do. But much of the online conflict you see between people is a silly and immature verbal exchange with no winners.
Don’t make other people’s online statements your problems. After all, you don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to.
(Note: Last line of post is modified from: “I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to” – author unknown.)