Cultivating Respectful Communication in Social Media.

In most recent blogging experience where there was much heated debate about the issue of sleep training, I happened to stumble upon some very disrespectful comments (and unfortunately some personal attacks that I have deleted). It seemed the larger issue became what WAS acceptable as far as judging, criticizing and questioning goes. What DOES respectful communication look like? I do not have the answers to this, obviously since I just ran and hid in fear! But the topic of respectful disagreement when things get heated is something that I will be pondering in the future. If we start working on respectful communication with our peers, surely this will seep into our parenting.

Questions I invite you to ponder

-We can be thinking about how the internet often makes us forget that we are talking to people. How would you disagree face to face versus on a heated comment thread?

-You can walk away in person, but online, the comments live on. Is deleting these comments an acceptable practice or is THAT disrespectful?

-Are you feeling intense feelings in your comments that you are not addressing  Can you preface by saying: “This makes me feel emotional so I might seem biased and I apologize…”

-Comments loaded with negative opinion like “That is horrible!” “How cruel!” or  “This sounds so awful,” I question. This does not seem respectful to me, though “I strongly dissagree” or even “I feel like this is cruel” seem a little more open. Turn “You” statements into “I” statements. 

-Could we discuss following non-violent communication while we debate online, to increase respectful communication? Making suggestions or helping to moderate? 

-As a last resort, there’s always the age old advice from your mother: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

These are just a few questions to think about, I am sure there are more as communicating online is relatively new territory for us all. What I do know is that I will be changing the way I share and allow comments in the future. I may not be able to walk away from comments but I CAN delete them. What are your (respectful) thoughts on this?

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