Have you ever read a post on Twitter,Facebook, or a blog that you disagree with?

I have, in fact it happens all pretty frequently. Most of the time when this happens I just ignore it and move on. I kind of figure there is no purpose in arguing and that people are entitled to their own opinion. Perhaps even more interesting is when I see things that are clearly unfounded and then you see a string of shares, retweets, and compliments for/to the author. To me this is usually generated by more of a popularity contest rather than it being great content.

Regardless of the why behind all of our agreement and/or ignoring of content we disagree with, one of the things we are missing by doing this is the fact that debate is a key to learning and growth.

I have long subscribed to the school that most of the time there is more than one answer to anything(Barring some math and science). Perhaps you will draw conclusions at some point or find an approach that works for you, but trying to make that one size fits all is a mistake that curbs our evolution.

The need for debate and opposing views is not only a good thing, but really a requirement for great Social Media and an overall better online experience. Having said that, it is important that debate is handled the right way to make it meaningful rather than just an exercise in negativity or a chance to prove how smart we are.

Here are 5 Keys to better online debate.

  1. Be Selective: Don’t just disagree with everything (obvious). Find relevant and well thought out points of view that you are genuinely interested in discussing and learning more about.

  3. Ask For Clarification: Context is a huge problem online, often the pressure to shorten posts and content leaves content open to interpretation. If you come out to aggressive in your opposing view you will come across as both ignorant and as an A$$.

  5. Know Your Medium: If you are on Twitter don’t banter back and forth 40 times. Take it to another medium or agree to disagree. This holds true in many other mediums but your friends, followers, and family don’t want their streams full of ongoing arguments. However I think they will appreciate some good content found in opposing viewpoints.

  7. Don’t Aspire For Concrete Outcomes: The goal isn’t to prove someone wrong or to get them to admit defeat. Rather it should be to gain understanding of another’s perspective and perhaps to provide your own. We will learn and accept new ideas at our own pace. Online (especially in public spaces) is not the place to brow beat.

  9. Be Empathetic: This is a lesson for life too. Remember, how you feel about being told you are wrong. Try to deliver your view in a way that recognizes merit on all sides. In the end, you may find that the other person’s idea was well supported, valid, or just plain correct.
    Now it is up to you. If you want to make the online experience better, expand outside of just those in which you agree. Let’s share our ideas, thoughts, and opposing viewpoints and take advantage of the opportunity to learn.

    Or…Perhaps we should just agree to disagree?