Why are people so easily offended and how can we prevent this from happening?
When communicating on the internet people in social networks must be extremely careful not to offend. Without the benefit of voice intonation, body language, and facial expression people may have a hard time reading the intent of a typed message. Sometimes it takes a mediator to repair hurt feelings. Other times hypersensitive people take things the wrong way, even when an intention to harm did not exist. Time between each communication may contribute to long held offense. How can we prevent or repair these grievances?
It's important to remember everyone has a different sense of humor and sarcasm is not easily translated via email, twitter, or text. This is especially true if you have not spent a large amount of time together in person.
You can't control how someone else views things or internalizes them. There are other factors such as what is going on in a person's life which might affect how they took something on one day compared to how they would receive it on another day. Unless you know someone very well it's probably best to reserve questionable humor and sarcasm for face to face meetings or phone conversations.
The lack of facial expression, body language and tone of voice are indeed major factors in any problems I have experienced with online communication, not just on social networking sites, but Hubpages as well. Preventing such problems would appear to be easy by avoiding confrontational issues like politics and religion, but actually it isn't that simple. Because we all have different backgrounds, view different things to be important, and react to the same situations differently, we cannot guess when a person will be oversensitive about something you consider minor, and vice versa. There are some things that upset me easily, and yet in other ways you couldn't offend me if you tried - it all depends upon the topic-and people I know online simply don't know me well enough and vice versa. I've managed to offend people over things I thought were throw away comments of satire. But the subjects I found unimportant were vitally important to them and they didn't share my sense of humour.
Regarding repairing relationships, some can't be repaired. Others can indeed be repaired by a mediator as long as someone is willing to be a mediator and I've been most successful by using one and being honest. No passive aggressive comments work.
Internet has brought the world closer, but users still retain their regional and cultural viewpoints. This is the main reason for these skirmishes. Again, the anonymity offered by internet makes users speak their mind freely like never before, without thinking about repercussions. One man's meat is another man's poison. We just need to learn to have our say without offending others.
I often feel that if you are genuine about your point of views, you spread out lesser hurt feelings. Most important thing for me is respecting other's point of view even if I am totally against it. Certainly we can tell that we don't agree but saying that in a tone or way that doesn't belittle the other party but just puts one's valid points. After all, convictions obviously differ from person to person and it is this world of internet that gives us immense pleasure to know so many points of views. We should start cherishing these differences and convince the other party how they can do the same. Perhaps lack of enough time to make the others understand is the issue. We should make a point not to let go of the negative feeling that might be spread out with "I" as the cause. Yeah, smartness is the key!
I think a lot of people are easily offended because they are not comfortable in their own skin. This is to say that many people are quite insecure and any quip or comment that is not obviously flattering, may lead them into a tail-spin.
Insecurity arises from the lack of confidence and from the fear one may not be accepted. The internet is a place where Dr. Jeckels can turn into Mr. Hydes, because of complete anonymity.
Let the user beware. Not everyone will agree with you and not everyone will like you...get used to it - it's just a way of life. As Thomas Jefferson noted, "One-third of the people will like you no matter what; one-third will hate you no matter what; and one-third won't care either way." (loose translation).
Prevention is a tough road to hoe, because one cannot account for all the insecurities the other party has, nor does one know their background. To be offended is a choice and the only real prevention is to be confident with who you are and what you stand for.
It will also help to know that other people have different opinions that may conflict with yours. Be gracious and allow them to maintain their point of view and dignity. Those who prove themselves to be "drive-by" morons, should be dismissed. Allow their caustic remarks to roll off you like water off a duck's back.
It's so easy to offend online. I don't worry about it so much anymore, but then I seldom try to tease someone online either, unless I know them really well. I find myself less apt these days to take offense to online comments either, because I'm so aware that they might not have meant it the way it came out.
Meanwhile, in person I find it crucial to stay grounded. When I'm off my center, which I was yesterday morning, I'm more likely to say or do something that offends someone. And I'm more likely to take it personally when I didn't do anything to cause offense, but they got offended anyway.
This is why emoticons were invented choosing the right one will convey the intonation thats missing online.
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