How do you adapt to a culture of substandard communication, express your intent in 140 characters, qualify, clarify, employ diplomacy, dodge bullets, and honor Christ every day in the online space? You don’t. Not with a 100% success rate that is.
Living out your faith on a digital stage is not for sissies. If you think about it, millions of people posting personal ideologies, opinions, beliefs and values to abbreviated channels such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, is kind of like an invitation to miscommunicate on a global scale.
You will make mistakes. You will step on landmines. You will have to put yourself back together again. But, you will survive.
10 ways to handle an online conflict:
- Evaluate objectively. Go back over the dialogue that lead up to the conflict and determine if you are responsible. Get another (objective) person’s opinion.
- Cool off before clicking. Rather than firing off a response, chill out and log off. Depending on the level of emotion, this may require a few hours or even a few days as a “cooling off” period. Read Romans 12:2.
- Ask forgiveness if needed. If you realize that you mispoke, relayed incorrect information, or responded inappropriately—you need to own it. Ask the person (if digitally possible) if they will forgive the offense.
- Maintain a “real” perspective. Match the worry to the relationship. Were you close to the person or were they a stranger prone to spar with anyone? Go read their feed/wall/blog to get a full picture. Cyberspace is huge and words are dangerous. If you angst over every person who disagrees with you, you won’t last long. Pray and determine if the issue is worthy to pursue, if not, let it go and move on. Read 2 Timothy 2:23-25.
- Don’t take it personally. Communicating online leaves a lot to be desired. If humans who talk face-to-face have conflict, you can bet that people writing brief posts will run into collassal confusion over written “intent.” It’s rarely about you and often about the deficit in the medium.
- Take the conversation off-stage. Clarify a comment by sending a Direct Message (DM), private message, or email if possible. Chances are you can resolve an ambiguity before it escalates.
- Realize where you live. Conflict is part of your life on earth. Interacting online is no different. You may be judged, misunderstood, bullied, and ridiculed. And, there will be times when you will be at fault. It’s human nature this side of heaven and a cultural reality digital communities. Read John 16:33.
- Take it to the throne. God is with you at all times. He knows the snares of the wired world and He is willing to take the burden from you—immediately. Pray for the person with whom you are in conflict. Present your heart to God and let Him sort out the details. Don’t re-engage with others online until your heart is pure and aligned with the Father’s heart.
- Don’t ignore people. Sure, it’s easy to dismiss, block, or delete a negative comment. However, you may miss an opportunity to echo Christ to someone in need. Address a comment in love—no matter how different it may be from yours. Sometimes your biggest crtics can end up becoming your biggest fans—if you work through and not around the tough stuff.
- Assume the best in others. Simply being alive and pursuing relationship requires courage. That is true of you, and everyone you encounter. Everyone has bad days. Everyone makes mistakes. As Christians, grace is our response (not always natural but a discipline of the faith). Walking through a conflict with honesty and kindness will speak more about Christ than posting a thousand bible verses . . . and certainly more than automatically hitting the “block” button.
Have you ever had to deal with conflict online? If so, how did you handle it?