Face-to-Face: How to Establish Healthy Boundaries on Social Media Volume 1

 The Cyberspace Soapbox:

How to handle political posts on Facebook

In today’s world, it is hard to tell where our digital experiences end and our real ones begin.  This vast interconnectedness via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media has many benefits. We can stay in contact with those thousands of miles away, be updated on the latest news with the swipe of a touch screen, and keep our  friends and families posted about the latest happenings in our lives.  Yet, just like out in the physical world, establishing boundaries on the web is essential to protect our social and emotional well-being. This week, we will be focusing on how to handle varying political opinions and disagreements in cyberspace.

No matter how tempting it is to sling mud as they do on Capitol Hill, it’s essential to avoid it on social networking sites. Always remember, no matter the site or the source, your post is public. Just like in a conversation at the office, or with a stranger at a dinner party, talking about sex, religion, or politics is  not a good idea.

Instead, think of these sites exactly as they are described; they are “networks,” which makes them a great place to put your best foot forward and stay in contact with all kinds of people.

If you are passionate about your beliefs, think about joining a Facebook group on the topic, or posting a supportive message on an organization’s business page. This will help you avoid offending those around you. It’s also a safe place, filled with like-minded people, to let your opinions fly.

Despite your best intentions, there will always be those people who share things that may not fit your views or are offensive. Before you react by getting upset, unfriending the person, or leaving a public comment you may regret later, stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself these questions.

  • If the person said this to you in-person how would you react?
  • How important is this relationship to you?
  • What is it about this post that is upsetting to you?
  • Is this post directly attacking you personally?

Answering these questions will help you decide what to do next. If the post is exceptionally offensive, one option is blocking the person from your news feed. Blocking them doesn’t unfriend them;  you just no longer have to read their posts. They will still be in your network if you need to contact them later. This is a great option for acquaintances, coworkers, and other people on the outskirts of your close social circle.

If someone posts something that attacks you personally, think about sending him or her a private message asking to take it down. This may make you feel very vulnerable, but if you say that this post makes you uncomfortable, most people will comply with your request.  However, there will sometimes be those who aren’t respectful; in that case, you can take down the post yourself and unfriend them. Remember, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Lastly, it’s always important to remember that we live in a country where we have the privilege and right to have and share our own opinions, no matter how varied. Often a political post isn’t meant to attack you as a person, and it’s important to step back and remember to live and let live.  So as you surf the web, be safe, be aware, and set your boundaries. You are sure to learn new things from those around you. Visit us next week for more on social media and your wellbeing. 

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