ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Not to Offend Anyone Online

Updated on December 2, 2020
Jodah profile image

John is passionate about human and animal rights, social justice, equality, and the environment, and likes to convey that in his writing.

Always approach others with care. There could be prickly consequences.
Always approach others with care. There could be prickly consequences.
Lightning and a rainbow can exist in harmony. There is no need for conflict.
Lightning and a rainbow can exist in harmony. There is no need for conflict.

Online Writing is Open to Misinterpretation

With the Internet and social media being the fastest growing communication tool on the planet it is inevitable that at some stage something you write or post online will upset or offend someone else, or God forbid, even a large group of people.

I consider myself to be a very easy going and placid person in real life. I don't like conflict and will usually go out of my way to avoid it or try to be an calming intermediary if it involves others. That being said, even I have to think carefully and consider all contexts in which my writing may be interpreted before I hit the enter key.

In about 15 years writing online, and almost six of those on this site, I thankfully admit that I have only offended others (that I am aware of) on a handful of occasions. Believe me, none of these was intentional either. The main problem in communicating in writing on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as forums, chat rooms, comments etc. is that the recipients or readers have no way of gauging the intonation behind your words or of interpreting your body language. For this reason you have to think carefully about any possible misinterpretation before posting your text.

A person's mood when reading your text will often determine how they interpret it, and whether they find it funny, positive, or degrading and offensive. Cultural, racial and even gender differences can determine how another person reads and processes what you write as well. So, please beware, a seemingly innocent remark can get you into all sorts of hot water.

I dedicate this article to anyone I have upset or offended online. Please accept my sincere apologies.

If you read something that upsets you, before you reply, think of your happy place or if you can, go there. Count to 10, take a few deep breaths, then re-read what upset you. It may see things differently.
If you read something that upsets you, before you reply, think of your happy place or if you can, go there. Count to 10, take a few deep breaths, then re-read what upset you. It may see things differently.

10 Ways to Avoid Being Misunderstood Online

  1. Only communicate using Video Chat, Skype, or FaceTime. This way the other party can read your expressions, intonation, and body language to help them interpret what you are saying.
  2. Carefully re-read everything you write, considering all possible interpretations and negative responses. Don't jump to conclusions yourself when reading what others have written.
  3. Don't enter into discussions or forums on controversial topics such as Climate Change, Religion, or Politics, or anything that you can't discuss objectively.
  4. Don't engage "obvious" trolls in discussion. You will never win these arguments, and if you get agitated or angry they are just succeeding in what they set out to do.
  5. Never leave negative comments on other people's hubs or blog posts. If you can't say something positive, it's best to say nothing at all.
  6. If you really feel strongly about an issue and are compelled to enter a discussion on a topic of which there are strongly conflicting views, make sure you are armed with solid facts and statistics to back up your point of view.
  7. Never reply to a post or comment with the sole purpose of provoking an argument or denigrating the other opinion. Don't be a troll yourself!
  8. Don't say more than you need to. Often trying to be too verbose will eventually result in you putting your foot in your mouth and subsequently offending.
  9. Don't pretend to be an expert in fields where you are not knowledgeable or educated. If you find out you have said something wrong or incorrect..for God's sake.. APOLOGISE!
  10. Be nice. Treat everyone else amiably and with respect and chances are they will treat you the same way.

Just relax, think peace and tranquility
Just relax, think peace and tranquility

While Writing Online..

Have you ever ..?

See results

Losing Touch by Blake Duffin

W.W.Walk the Talk (a short poem)

Online communication

A marvel of our time,

Transcending the world

Like a famous nursery rhyme.


Voice your strong opinions,

Free speech is your right,

But please don't be a bully

Or a troll in the night.


Google, Facebook,Twitter,

News feed on the run,

Plus, like, share, or tweet,

Chat and have some fun.


But be careful what you type,

It's easy to offend.

Re-read everything you write,

Think before you send.

Try to see the beauty in everything, including what others write
Try to see the beauty in everything, including what others write

Parting Thoughts

As I said earlier, you should try not to jump to conclusions. It is so easy to do this even when chatting to someone face to face in real life. So just imagine how easy it is when you are communicating just through written words online. Always take your time and don't just dive in to a quick reply, especially if you are upset. Count to ten, take a few deep breaths, and if you have to even walk away for a few minutes.

Try to clear your mind of the angy or distressing thoughts and replace them with something pleasant. When you feel more relaxed, return and read the text again. You may be pleasantly surprised that it wasn't so offensive as you first thought. If you had already replied in anger and now realise your mistake, please swallow your pride and admit that you were too quick to judge. It's always better to make friends than enemies. You never know when you'll need them :)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 John Hansen

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)