If you’re on Twitter, actively tweet, and have an opinion about anything, it’s inevitable that someone will disagree with you. Most folks are decent human beings able to let it go if you don’t end up seeing eye to eye. Every once in a while, though, a relentless tweeter will forget that you are a person they’ve never ever met, and will completely lose their mind 140 characters at a time. As Drake said in his infamous rhyme against Meek Mill, "trigger fingers turn to Twitter fingers." People get real bold when they're behind a computer screen.
What do you do in that situation? Should you continue to engage, or do you log off and go about with your real life?
How to have a debate and keep your cool
Here’s the thing. It’s social media. The point is to engage with others. The best part of Twitter is that it’s made up of millions of people, from all over the world, with different viewpoints and experiences. It’s unrealistic to think that, among those millions, you will never communicate with someone who thinks you're wrong.
Sometimes, it’s kind of fun to engage in a Twitter beef. It keeps you sharp! The most important thing to do, should you find yourself in a heated discussion, is to keep your cool.
As tempting as it might be to go off, cursing, and giving your twenemy* the business, remember that there are lots of other folks watching. One retweet can turn to two, and the next thing you know, your tweets have gone viral. People have lost their real offline jobs because of low blows during a Twitter beef. Don’t end up unemployed just to get your point across to a person that you don’t even know.
Easier said than done, right? I get it and I’ve been there. Someone tweets something outrageous to you, your face gets hot and red, and you just want to unleash your crazy on them. Try not to do it. Instead, remember to tweet respectfully. Don’t call names, use curse words, or make threats. Stick with the facts of the disagreement.
When to step away to protect yourself
If you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed, just stop tweeting. That’s it. Let it go. Don’t try to get the last word. Don’t try to defend yourself. Just let it go. You'll feel better.
And if the drama turns from a heated exchange to a personal attack or abuse, stop tweeting immediately and block the other person. If they continue to harass you, or their followers start tweeting offensive things to you, report them. To report an offensive tweet, hover over the three dots at the bottom of the tweet. Click on "Report", then "It's Abusive or Harmful."
You should expect others to engage with you with the same level of respect that you give them. If you find that they are tweeting nasty, rude, or offensive things to you, it’s absolutely abuse and should not be tolerated. If the tweeter brings up your family, threatens to find you offline, or refers to you in a derogatory way, you are being abused and need to block and report.
In the event that the abuse continues off of Twitter, the person follows you to other social networks, or even worse attempts to take the abuse offline, contact the police immediately. You don’t have to wait until something happens to file a report against that person. You don’t have to deal with abuse, and it’s important that you stay safe.
Twitter can be an incredibly interesting place to have difficult, complicated conversations. It can be a place to shoot the breeze and have a good laugh. It never has to be a place where you feel uncomfortable or stressed. If the drama ever gets to that point for you, just stop tweeting.
Brandi Riley is the Social Media Manager for BlogHer.
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