This morning, I noticed what I thought was an offensive post from a Facebook friend that I badly wanted to respond to. Fortunately, I didn’t have time to respond right then so I made a mental note to get back to it later and went about my morning. I was still sort of fuming about it, though, and thinking through all of the different things I wanted to write in response. I admit some of them were a bit cruel.
I’m telling you this because it’s a nice example of how we can keep from falling into the online anger trap that seems to get so many people in trouble. I was mad this morning. In fact, I was livid about what I had read and if I had responded, like I wanted to, while in that angry state, I may have written something I later regretted.
My last post described three facts about online anger (see here), including how it can cause people serious problems. One thing I heard in response from people is how they wanted to know more about how to avoid those types of consequences.
First, to finish the story about this morning’s Facebook argument, by the time I got around to going back to Facebook, I had decided not to write anything in response. It just didn’t seem like there was any point. I probably wasn’t going to write anything that would change this person’s opinion and I don’t think any of his friends were going to be persuaded either.
And that’s actually part of the first strategy for avoiding online anger.
The truth is that I’m still a bit angry about what I read today and I may go respond at some point. I wouldn’t want to suggest that it’s never good to express anger online. Far from it, we are often right to be angry and should express that anger in healthy ways. I do feel confident, though, that if I choose to respond to this person, it will be a better, more thoughtful response than I would have sent this morning.