Friday, May 18, 2012

Online Debates vs Business Participation in Social Media

There are certain words and phrases that bring out the fighting instinct in people. As we read social media postings, we are bound to come across statements that rub us the wrong way.

If you have any sincere beliefs at all, it's only natural to be displeased, even upset, when someone makes fun of it, or vigorously states an opposing view.

What kinds of remarks get your blood boiling?

Praise for a politician you despise? Ridicule of your religious beliefs? Mockery of your secular philosophy? Non-factual claims? Common misunderstandings?

News about yet another waste of tax payer money? Talk of cutting social programs while increasing funds for war or corporate subsidies?

Repetition of political cliches and party lines, verbatim, like a parrot or robot?

Reports on yet another horrible crime against women, children, animals, or the environment? Rants against a celebrity or rock band you like?

Everyone has an anger trigger, an insult threshold, an emotional switch that can make black smoke pour out their ears and lightning shoot from their eyes.

But lots of people hate conflict. Or they don't enjoy arguing. Or they're too educated to believe that debates can change anyone's opinion.

Then there are people who love to argue and like to instigate controversy with inflammatory remarks.

Some people identify so deeply with a person or idea, they consider any criticism of that person or thing to be a personal attack against themselves. Others feel obligated to defend a belief and will jump on every opportunity to do so.

It can take a lot of self-restraint to not react to a provocation that hits your emotional hot spot. Just seeing the smug statement, and a flurry of comments in support of it, can tempt you to rain on their parade and insert a contrary opinion or link.

If you're an online activist, you may feel it's your duty to engage in these blogocombat debates. You sharpen your ideological rhetoric and discussion skills by diving into controversial topic threads.

If you're representing a business, you will probably refrain from such activity. You focus on sharing your industry insights and tips that can help people solve problems related to your field.

By sticking to your expertise, and innocent jovial banter with social media friends, you avoid the risk of alienating potential customers and clients.

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