Criteria for a Facebook Response

Someone I respect commented on an article I posted on Facebook. I disagreed with some of his points. He also offered a point of clarification. The conversation I wanted to have was then derailed by my own defensiveness. I let my disagreement with a couple of his points overflow onto his whole post. Reflecting on the conversation, I really wish I had engaged with his points. I could have learned much more and the conversation could have been worth following.

I don’t really know why I responded the way I did. I’ve since apologized to him, after he called me out in the course of the comment thread. It made me realize, though, that I’m not living up to my ideals when it comes to discourse. Many of the conversations that I want to have are happening via Facebook now. And I’ve let myself slip into the same entrenchment that I claim to abhor.

I value argument, discussion, conversation, and learning. It is important to me that my point of view and position on issues are malleable. So, I’m making a change. I’ve decided to create some criteria for responding to posts and comments on Facebook (and other social media).

My criteria for a Facebook response:

* Does my comment do more than validate my argument or invalidate someone else’s?

* Does this point warrant a response?

* Is my opinion necessary here?

* Will a response be more productive than ignoring the comment?

* Have I considered that the point might be valid, even if I disagree?

* Will any clarification I offer build the conversation?

* Will my response help me learn?

If my answer to any of these questions is “no,” then I don’t comment or respond.

Inspired by the rules for Newsnight 2.0:

What do you think? Do you think we should be more considerate about the way we engage in conversation on Facebook? Maybe not for all topics, but for serious discussions on topics that are important to people?

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