So, this is a tough topic. Not that anyone feels encouragement is a bad thing, but I think it’s the word “argument” we may disagree on...ironically.
Good and Bad Argument
Now, Socratic-style argumentation is fine. The type where you hear others opinions, marinate on them, and follow-up with more questions. All in an effort to sharpen one another. Then there’s what we see on social media feeds. The kind of arguments you’ll find beneath political articles. Compromise, evidence, and discussion mark the first kind of argument. Anger, insults, and outbursts mark the latter.
Argument can be healthy. It’s how we resolve issues. But it can also damage. So, as we talk about the role of encouragement vs. argument, we are emphasizing the productive over the harmful.
Lean towards Encouragement
You’re a digital citizen whether you like it or not. We all are. Whether through text, email, or social media, we all affect others online. Our words can offer hope and courage for those around us, especially those friends you may disagree with on some issues. Healthy argumentation is necessary, but there’s power in erring towards encouragement first. So, what does encouragement look like in our digital lives? How can we drift from toxic arguments and closer to helping others?
Sit at a Different Table
Remember the awkward middle school cafeteria? There was always that one kid who sat alone. On social media—and in real life—find those people, the ones with good hearts but aren’t with the “in” crowd. Be a friendship-seeking missile.
It doesn’t mean you abandon your tribe. Instead, you get to broaden your circle, swallowing-up some of the forgotten with new friendship. On social media, you could comment and interact with some of their posts. It will make their day—and yours.
“Be a friendship-seeking missile”
By seeking-out others, you engage your empathy more than reactive anger. And this benefits all parties involved. Often deeper discussion happens after connection through encouragement.
Take a Breather
If you find yourself getting heated….step back and pause. Will engaging with that post help others? Will it change minds? Is it helpful and kind?
Like our words face-to-face, once they’re out there on social media, they’re hard to take back. Yes, we can delete posts, tweets, and comments. But, the damage can be done quickly.
Defaulting to encouragement lets you reflect before responding. It’s not to say we should never argue. Advocating and standing-up for justice and what’s right is something we should always do. But, what’s right for others is often kindness first.
What you hope for is the flourishing and well-being of others, and encouragement is the stronger path to reach that end.