We’re tweeting and sharing and posting. We touch on a politically sensitive subject. And we don’t hesitate to engage in a friendly dialogue amongst community members. This is how folks learn. The back and forth sway. As we all know, a simple text exchange can quickly turn a meal of delicacies into a food fight.
How do you handle these situations? People can get defensive and hurl insults and redirect the conversation to be something personal. Maybe the person was having a bad day and was ready to conflict with anyone, and you happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or maybe you unknowingly overstepped a boundary. Either way, an issue was created. Then we must determine: Is this salvageable? Or do we part ways?
Social media allows us to develop online allies who echo our sentiment, but our allies might not share the same ideology so there can be conflict. Being an ally doesn’t mean we’re supposed to agree on every angle of an issue. We might agree on the issue, but the approach can be different. Allyship also doesn’t mean people have license to verbally abuse someone. I don’t get to attack you because you misunderstand a nuance within Native culture. And vise versa. You don’t get to attack me for advocating for my tribal communities. It’s a frail rope we walk, but one worth walking. And will pave a path for new methods in forming society. First, we must productively engage.
Since social media disassociates physical proximity from verbalized ideology, how do you respond to issues of contention? Do you immediately block someone? Do you withhold your thoughts to save an argument? Do you ask someone to take a break from the exchange? Or do you repeatedly engage until either you or the other person grows tired enough to unfollow and block? How do you handle the chaotic resonance of the echo chamber?
(Image above was borrowed from Flickr)