The 3 Golden Rules for Successful Online Discussions

Remember, you are what you portray online!

I love Facebook groups, I have learned a lot from the people who post in them and made really good friends along the way.

However, there is a dark side to engaging in online discussions.

One of my least favorite things about being on social media is interacting with people who seem to be looking for a fight. There are certain types of personalities that come off brash and a little unhinged.

They are not bad people but they don’t know how to express their opinion without coming off as condescending or defensive.

When I look back on the times when people have attacked me online, it is usually because I didn’t carefully choose my words. When you watch what you’re saying, it gives very little room for trolls to step in.

Many people don’t want to edit themselves and that is fair, but expect to deal with some confrontation along the way if you “wild out” online.

Lately, I have witnessed vile arguments break out online and all because people were not willing to put their pride aside and move on.

I figured I would do some research and come up with some tips for engaging with others respectfully online.

In these times, we could all use a little reality check about how we carry ourselves on social media.

Choose Your Words Carefully

I am the queen of this, to a fault. I write about marginalized people so I am extremely careful to be completely respectful while still getting my point across. Anything that carries controversy is a sensitive topic for people, so I am very careful about choosing my words when I address anyone online.

We have all posted on social media in the heat of the moment and regretted it. Once your post is out there, it’s out there. “No take-backsies”.

That’s why we should choose our words carefully. Some people may not like this, but we have to be careful about what we express online because of cancel culture.

For example: As a writer, I may not have a big following but it’s still a platform and I would never want to alienate anyone who takes the time to read my work.

Think about what you’re posting before you hit that share button. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this something you would be ok saying to the world with no shame?
  • Is this post going to help anyone?
  • Are you proud of what you’re going to share?
  • Is there any way this post can be misconstrued as being racist, hateful, condescending, or offensive?

You have a right to your opinion but if you share a controversial view, be prepared for backlash.

Honestly, I think it’s best to stay away from “hot button topic” discussions. If you want to show your support for a cause, make a donation or volunteer. Arguing online changes nothing but these actions do.

If you choose to post anything online, read it once in your head and once out loud. Ask yourself the above questions, and think about the impact the post could have on your life if it went viral.

Everything you post can go viral.

Remember Everyone Is Unique

We have seen it many times, someone from the right tries to change someone from the left’s mind and vice-versa. This cannot be done.

Everyone is raised differently, has unique religious and political backgrounds, and various levels of education.

Not one person in this world is the same and that’s what makes this world a beautiful but scary place.

When someone resorts to a personal attack on you, do not fight back. Remember that they may not have the intelligence to match wits with you, so they decide to insult you instead.

Many people who argue online during the holidays are vicious. Why is this? Well, I have always thought if someone has time to do that during the holidays, they may not have a family to be with.

Be kind always and remember: When someone is vicious at the world, there is always a reason for it. People fight their own battles with serious shit every day and it is better karma to be kind than it is to be right.

Learn to Use the Magic Phrase That Will End Any Argument

This works!¹

When you are deep into an argument with someone and you don’t know how to end it, simply type or say “You know, you may be right”. This phrase leaves little room for argument, it also leaves the possibility open that your adversary is incorrect, and it satisfies their ego. It’s a triple-whammy.

Once you hit them with this phrase, unfollow the post or turn off the notifications and move on with your life.

You’ve left the argument with your head held high and have not stooped to a low you will feel guilty about later.

Online discussions are a great way to engage with people — if you do it right. If you choose to embroil yourself in controversy and look for fights, the internet is going to be a very unpleasant place to be.

If you are not careful, posts that you have written in the past could come back to bite you in the ass. Cancel culture takes no prisoners, so it’s wise to stay out of controversial discussions altogether, if possible.

Keep it light, positive, and helpful!

“If you are on social media, and you are not learning, not laughing, not being inspired or not networking, then you are using it wrong.”
― Germany Kent

[1] Recently, I read an article about this phrase by a writer here on Medium but I can’t find the article now to credit the writer. If anyone knows this article, let me know the writer’s name and I will credit them!

Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching missing person cases.

Wife, mother, and researcher of a myriad of subjects. I love to write about anything and everything! Writer for The Startup, Better Marketing, & The Ascent👊

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store