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MANN: Navigating the minefield that is the comments section

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February 28, 2019 - 12:03 PM

 


OPINION


Sometimes when I am lying in bed reading with my daughter, she leans over closer to me, looks up me and says to me, “I love you mommy.”

And sometimes she tells me to go away.

But seriously, how can I not smile.

Those three little words coming from that little person are beyond awesome.

Any anger or frustration I have been carrying throughout the day, suddenly doesn’t seem so heavy.

And they are just words, but words, as we all know, can have an astounding impact.

Just look at any comments sections online — and pick a hot topic — vaccinations, politics or cannabis — just to name a few.

Every second person is an expert wordsmith, ready to shoot down your opinion and tell you exactly why you are wrong…or just why you suck.

There aren’t a lot of consequences when there is only a screen in front of you.

It will be a few years before my children experience the online world of comments and criticism — longer than a few years if I have anything to say about it.

It’s hard enough dealing with a conflict in person, between two people who are standing right next to each other and have a chance to go back and forth.

And guess what, sometimes at the end of that conflict, they actually come to a place where they can agree on something — even if it is just to disagree peacefully.

Then they have a beer or a coffee together and move on with their day.

But in the online world, there is a not-so-secret audience watching everything unfold.

They are taking inventory of the goings-on, but they hardly ever get the full story.

They are more than happy to judge though.

So what can I do to prepare my children for posting online, and facing the possibilities of some volatile backlash?

Well I think I’ve figured it out.

It’s all about the reaction time. Humans are passionate by nature, so is it any wonder we react so quickly and with such determination?

But back to my solution…

When my children start to learn about posting and the comments sections, I am going to ask them to consider three very important things:

1) Could you read your comment to your mother and still feel good about posting it?

2) Have you thought about how your comment will affect anyone else?

3) Are you OK with your comment being permanently fixated in the online world?

If they answer yes to all three questions, it probably safe to proceed, but waiting a day never hurt anyone either.

There’s enough drama in our every day physical lives, let alone the time we spend online.

I want my children to navigate the internet safely and learn all there is to learn about our world (and there is a lot), but I need them to understand that the comments sections can be like a battlefield where there are enemies on all sides.

— Becky is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking.


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