When not to respond to a Facebook post
There are two sayings that always come to mind when people get into unnecessary arguments. First, don’t talk about religion and politics. Second, if you can’t say anything nice, sit next to me. Wait, I mean, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Unfortunately, neither of those rules are followed when it comes to Facebook. For a very public venue, many people treat it like their personal soap box, and they often share things that are mean or inappropriate. So what can you do when you see those posts? How can you respond? Sometimes, no response is the best response there is. When shouldn’t you respond to a Facebook posting?
To tell someone they're wrong
Really, has this ever worked before? Someone posts a long rant about how they don’t think it’s fair that people get money without working for it and getting a drug test or they post that they think minimum wage should be raised. You’re on the opposing side, and you want to tell them why you’re right and why they’re wrong. How well did that go? Oh, it went horribly? I’m shocked! Wait, no I’m not. People don’t post their opinions on Facebook in order to engage in a debate or in order to get others to weigh in on a popular subject. Nope, they’re posting it because they’re right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong. It might be awful tempting to say why you’re on the other side, but it isn’t going to go anywhere good. Just say no, and ignore the post.
If it deals with religion or politics
It’s a surefire way to ruin any dinner party. I’m sure even Miss Manners would agree with me that it’s not a good idea to start a land war in Asia, I mean, start discussing politics and religion. Talk about polarizing topics! You never see so much disagreement as when a liberal and a conservative get together and begin discussing politics. Throw an atheist, an agnostic, and a religious person together, and you may get a lively discussion, or you may get three people at each other’s throats in a matter of minutes. The sparks really fly when people discuss religion or politics, so stay away from the topics. You know you won’t change the mind of the person doing the posting, so don’t waste your time and your virtual ink.
If it's about you (or you think it is)
I have to admit, one of my favorite things is to post vague statuses (Vaguebooking) and see who responds because they think it’s about them. Hint: If you think it’s about you, there’s probably only a 50% chance you’re right. Again, think of it if it was a real-life situation. Would you respond if someone made a snarky comment that may – or may not – be about you? My guess is no. We don’t generally start fights over a single comment that someone makes. To be fair, most people don’t make their comments in public, though. This is one of the wonders of Facebook – the anonymity that doesn’t exist, but somehow people think it does. People think they can’t be held accountable for what they say on Facebook. If you’re reading this, though, then you know better than that. You know that if you respond, whether you’re right or wrong, you’re going to look wrong. Either you’ll look foolish for jumping to the wrong conclusion, or you’ll look bad because someone just trash-talked you on social media. You can’t win. Don’t post.
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If your response will just make it worse
The fight has already started. They posted all about your chosen political candidate or religion, and now it’s spiraled out of control, and people are beginning to engage in backbiting and personal attacks that have nothing to do with the actual topic. You want to get your two cents in because you know you can stop the argument with your well-reasoned and logical response. Wrong! It’s probably gone to the troll level by now, and no matter what you say, you’re just going to get sucked in and make the situation worse. (Personally, if it was on my page, I would delete it rather than let people get all aflutter, but, hey, sometimes it’s fun to watch the train wreck.) Needless to say, walk away. Don’t get drawn in. It doesn’t matter if you are holding out a little hope that you are all the others need to come to their senses. You’re not. I promise. Go on with your life.
How do you respond to posts on Facebook?
If it's mean
I think it’s pretty sad that I have to say this, but I know it’s true. A while back, a person in a local group I’m part of posted up photographs she’d taken of her phone of two married people kissing. Not a big deal, except, of course, they weren’t married to each other. Whoops. (Word of advice: don’t make out with a married man/woman at the pumps of a gas station…you will get caught.) Regardless, the posts began flying, and everyone was engaging in name-calling. Now, I’m not saying that I disagreed. I think people who cheat can and should be called names. But it doesn’t help a situation, and if the husband or wife of the cheater saw it, it might make them feel worse. Why go back to middle school and start calling names? It doesn’t help. And, to be fair, it’s also not good to take the high road in the post. You’ll look like you’re trying to be better than everyone else. There is no way to come out of it in a good light.
Instead of responding, think about the other ways you can deal with the situation. If it’s not that big a deal, just ignore it. You can’t fix other people. If you still want to be friends, and if their opinion isn’t about something that will ruin your life, just walk on by. If it’s something major, like they support dog fighting, then you may have to do something about it. Would you stop being friends with them in real life? Unfriend them online then! If it’s not a deal breaker, but you just don’t want to have to put up with stuff online that you wouldn’t put up with in public, then hide their posts. You won’t need to see what they’re saying, but you can still choose to go to their page, invite them to your casual get-togethers, and let them see what you post. If you no longer want anything at all to do with them, block them. They won’t be able to see you, and you won’t be able to see them. It’s the nuclear option, and I wouldn’t suggest it for a slight, but if it’s something major, then do it. You don’t need them in your life, you don’t need them in your Facebook feed, either.