We always hear about the positive side of online communication. I have written close to a dozen articles about developing Twitter relationships, but what happens when things go the other way? What about when an online communication goes wrong and you get in a spat with an Internet friend?
When my father was alive, every time I would send him an email, he would pick up the phone and call me. He explained that since we didn’t live close together and didn’t have an in-person relationship, he wanted to call me so that nothing was lost in translation online.
His theory was that when you communicate primarily online, since there is no eye contact, no tone of voice, no obvious gestures, sometimes things can be misinterpreted. My father’s words are ringing in my head after what happened yesterday. I got in my very first online argument ever. To make matters worse, it was with one of my closest Twitter friends.
He sent me a direct message which I misinterpreted. I fired back with an email. He misinterpreted my email and sent a very strong email back arguing points that weren’t relevant. We wasted a whole bunch of time and energy on jumbled up mess of misunderstandings.
The strange thing is that this person is so special to me and I would never want to hurt him, but it just all happened so fast. And then poof – the damage was done. Suddenly an entire long standing friendship felt like it was on the rocks over a thirty minute misunderstanding. I didn’t sleep all night.
I learned a lot from this experience. If this has never happened to you before, then I hope to give you some pointers so that if it does happen, you will handle it better than I did.
1. The whole thing started with that first email I sent. Once I did that, it was over. I’m still having a hard time recovering from that action. Don’t think twice before sending something like that, instead, think about ten times.
2. Everything online is amplified. If you are annoyed, you will come across as angry. If you are angry, you will come across as very angry. Instead of typing exactly what you are thinking, remember this and adjust your words accordingly.
3. Know when to stop. That is probably the only one thing we did right in that argument. I wasn’t even the one to stop it; he gets all the credit for that. He knew when to stop and turn the corner. Looking back, that was so important.
4. Be more patient, more kind and more understanding that you might be in person because just as you are trying to decipher their text, they are doing the same thing with yours. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt, always.
In the end, we kissed and made up, thank goodness. I apologized over and over. I won’t be having another online spat again, ever.
If your argument is at home, instead of online, you might want to order this Spat Solver. This is hilarious.
If you have any comments or suggestions about this, or if something like this has ever happened to you, please leave a comment below.