No Haters: How to be Politely Opinionated Online

I dream of a world where people can all agree on things, but sadly that world is not the one we live in.  People disagree on everything from the best restaurant on a Friday night to government policies.  Everyone has opinions, and many people decide to use the internet to express them. To be fair, there is nothing wrong with debating on the internet, and it can actually lead to some decent discussion.  But before you go racing to your computer to Tweet your thoughts on healthcare or post a Facebook status on the finer points of (insert name of religion here), it might be worth thinking about how to do it right.

So you’re scrolling through your news feed one night and someone has just posted a religious view contrary to yours.  Shocked and appalled, you type out that they are ignorant and that you can’t believe someone would ever think that way, and that there is no place for such foolishness in our proud country.  If you’ve done this, you’re doing it wrong!  Everyone has a right to state their opinion no matter how misguided it may be.  You certainly aren’t doing anything to help them by calling their opinion stupid or ignorant, except maybe making them less receptive to your own view.  Instead, maybe calmly state your argument and see where it goes from there.  Much more civil, right?

So now the role is reversed.  You’re just so frustrated with political party X or special interest group Y and you’re going to let the internet know it.  Suddenly, someone comments on it saying they disagree and you think “How dare they,” shooting back that you should be able to state your views without getting attacked for it.  Done this recently?  Wrong again!  First of all, you have stated your views on a public forum, meaning you have now opened yourself up to criticism and have no right to complain when it comes.  Secondly, your view loses considerable credibility if you don’t back it up when questioned.  Try responding with reasoning and if they continue to press, either talk it out or disengage.  Know that you won’t be able to convince everyone.  Some people are set in their ways, so know when to give up the fight and step away from the keyboard.  But at least be willing to talk if they question you politely.

One last situation: you hate such and such government policy and conclude that the only way to convince all your Facebook friends of this injustice is to load their timelines with posts for your view.  Not quite correct.  While the occasional post can be good, too many will just turn people off.  Not every post will “show them” quite the way you think.  Look at that: you’re already feeling less annoying.

So now you know how to be opinionated and be online at the same time.  Follow these simple guidelines, and remember, even these are just my opinions.  But just know that if you question them, I’m not afraid to back them up!

Comments are closed.