America is becoming a cesspool. It’s election season, which is bad enough. Every state in the USA is trying to one up each other with their awful garbage legislation. First, we make it dangerous for trans people to go to the bathroom—as if it ever mattered in the history of the world who was taking a #2 in the stall next to you. Now, we’re making abortions a felony in Oklahoma! Awesome! I just want to celebrate by throwing the whole world off a cliff. We don’t actually deserve nice things anymore. We deserve every bit of Trump we get, just because we’re the kind of people to pretend that using certain restroom stalls is a safety issue.
As you can see, it’s easy to get passionate about this type of thing. Just look at Facebook. Everybody is on Facebook, posting articles and memes and getting furious at each other.
I get it. It’s hard not to get mad about these very real issues. It’s even easier to get mad about it. And when somebody who you went to high school with, or your friend’s aunt, or our old boss is posting ill-informed, hateful opinions about it on Facebook, it’s warranted that you might want to go full on keyboard warrior (do people say that? Am I awful for saying that?) and give them a piece of your mind. But the question is---do you engage? Is it ever worth it to get into fights on Facebook? I give some do’s and don’ts on the issue below:
1. . DO Choose Your Battles Wisely
You have to ask yourself a few questions before you go full-on rage. Is it about a real issue that you are informed about? Perhaps your opinion will be helpful. Are they saying something to get a rise out of people, or are they really just being ignorant? Maybe you shouldn’t engage with someone who is just looking to fight. Are you mad because they don’t like Star Wars or something? Maybe comment, but, uh, don’t take people’s pop culture opinions too personally? Here’s the truth: getting into a debate on Facebook never really ends well. Nobody’s minds are usually changed. It can affect real life relationships with people you like. If you still think it’s worth it, do it.
2. . DO Speak Up
I do think it’s good to be the kind of person who speaks up about things that they care about. It’s good practice to step out of your comfort zone a bit and point out when somebody’s using hurtful words, or saying something …stupid. Maybe they won’t change. Maybe they’ll think twice about it the next time they do it. But at least you aren’t being silent and a little bit complicit when you hear straight-up hateful rhetoric being thrown around on the Internet.
3. . DON'T Expect To Change People's Minds
Say how you feel. Point out where you disagree. But don’t think that your magical words will someone make somebody change their minds. People are pretty stubborn. Sometimes, they’ll rethink where they are coming from. Sometimes, you’ll have a respectful change of words and ideas, and you’ll leave the conversation feeling good. But most of the time, people will just get mad back, and tell you you’re wrong. If you can handle that, then feel free to get into it. If not, don’t keep repeating yourself in the hopes that your old coworker will suddenly not be kinda sexist. You can try, but awful people tend to remain relatively awful in some ways.
4. . DON'T Be A Jerk
Do I need to say this? No need for personal attacks. Don’t be a gross idiot. Don’t insult people you don’t know on their appearance or that their facebook pic is of their hideous baby. Be civil. The Internet is awful enough without you adding to the muck of it all.
5. . DO Bow Out Early
State your opinion. Leave. Close your computer. Go to work. Have a cup of coffee. Run around your neighborhood. Complain to your other friends about your jerky Facebook friend. Feel free to unfriend somebody if the conversation gets heated enough that you are being attacked. And I’ll say it again, because it bears repeating: state your opinion and leave. You don’t need to spend your whole day refreshing a status, getting into it with people you’ll never meet.
I do think that constructive criticism or a civil debate can be useful to people in your life. I do think that saying how you feel when you’re passionate about it matters. I do believe that people can learn from mistakes and grow. Does it happen on Facebook that often? Nah.
Oh and bonus DO: if you need to, DO go nuclear. Tell them they’re an asshole and leave. If they’re supporting those new bathroom laws, I can’t say I blame you.