It’s common knowledge that social media has changed the way we seek and share information. Unfortunately, a lot of people think it gives them carte blanche to express their views without restraint, thus spawning a breed of trolls, and a new culture of passing judgment on the internet in the meanest, rudest and nastiest ways possible.
If used responsibly, social media makes an excellent platform for interesting, informative and intelligent discussions. It connects like-minded people globally, allows sharing of unique and valuable insights, and delivers brilliant answers to questions.
Social media content varies, from silly to serious to shocking. And then there are videos, stories, and commentaries that affect us so much that we just have to share our own views, regardless of whether we agree or not. Some of the most controversial issues that can trigger word wars of global magnitude are politics, gender and race equality, religion, privacy rights and human rights in general.
Related: Quotes on Judging and Being Judged
There are ways to engage with users, comment, or share your opinion or views without sounding judgmental on social media. But there’s no guarantee that, no matter how you say it, people who have contradicting opinions will react politely. No social networking site is immune from the comments of virulent haters who hurl criticisms and insults nonstop.
But judging per se cannot be avoided. Nor is it a bad thing. We judge situations and motivations to help us make good decisions. It becomes “wrong” when we judge with self-righteousness and we don’t apply the same standards to our own actions and motivations. With that said, here are tips on how to express your views on topics that affect you without sounding like a sanctimonious hypocrite.
Tips to avoid being judgmental on social media:
Always be kind when you say or write something.
You can disagree but you don’t have to resort to bullying or disparaging the other side. Choose your language carefully. Do not attack a person’s character. Stick to the issue at hand. Many times, the problem is not what you’re saying but how you’re saying it.
Kindness is founded on empathy and understanding of another person’s feelings and behavior based on their own experiences. When you are kind, you essentially avoid being judgmental and hurting other people.
To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said or what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Back up your opinion with research and facts.
Do your research and verify what you learn so that when stating an opinion, you can back it up with truths. Your standpoint becomes more convincing, and you can easily win people over to your side. With the support of facts, you appear more objective rather than judgmental.
Be aware of and sensitive to opposing ideas and opinions.
Withhold making quick assumptions about other people. Their views may be a result of where they’re coming from or what they’re dealing with. Even if you are on opposing sides, don’t let the difference taint your attitude towards them. Respect the diversity in cultures, beliefs and personal backgrounds.
Know the whole story before making a judgment.
Scathingly judgmental people want to be the first to comment on a video or news shared on social media without knowing what the whole thing is about. Often these are issues supposedly about racism, homosexuality, human or animal rights, and faith.
Before you join in, if you must, find out what the story is on all sides. Convey your position in specific terms. Avoid using absolute words like “always,” “never,” “everybody,” “nobody,” “impossible” or risk being refuted and labeled as judgmental.
Another option is to ask yourself: “Do I really need to express my opinion?” Unless it’s an earthshaking revelation that nobody has heard of before, sometimes it’s best to stay away from contentious discussions.
Lastly, don’t be too proud to change your opinion or admit you are wrong.
So you realize that you’ve misjudged a person, situation, or behavior. If you don’t want to admit to the error, it’s because your ego won’t let you. Eat humble pie and ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen if you own up to your mistake? You’ll get sneers and jeers from narrow-minded people, that’s to be expected. But do these types of people even matter? The truly wise and enlightened ones will admire you for your bravery and humility. And you’ll learn that being wrong sometimes is not such a big deal after all.