Picking a Ditch to Die In: A Conversation on Conflict in Social Media

“Ya gotta pick yer ditch to die in, kiddo.”

- My grandfather

Snarky comments from an ex- on Facebook, a blogger who makes blind accusations about your content, an argumentative Tweep who wants to pick a fight…Conflict across the social mediasphere crops-up in varied forms. Always abundant yet not always needed or relevant, just how do you deal with the B.S. when it comes knocking on your door?

Like my grandfather said, you’ve gotta pick your ditch to die in.

Earlier this week, Sharlyn Larby had a spot-on post on Mashable (HOW TO: Deal With Social Media Conflict). She offers excellent pointers for those dealing with the every day business of working in social media. On occasion however, there comes a point where you must decide what goes offline and stays visible for the web-going public. That’s when it’s time to decide whether you pick the shovel up and start digging or you walk over to the tool shed and put it away for a day that presents a more noble cause. Granted, you can always choose to hit someone over the head with the shovel, but that’s an advance tactic I won’t be introducing in today’s blog.

As the recent target of some social media mudslinging, I’ve had to give some serious thought to the topic. In forum like Facebook or MySpace, you can delete offensive remarks on your page/profile/wall and call that the end of it. But what do you do when it’s a blog or a tweet – something more public-facing and readily accessible by the media-consuming masses? Here are some thoughts, as well as practices I’ve engaged in as I’ve been forced to respond to a less-than-optimal situation. And for the record, my personal situation itself is irrelevant. It’s done. I’m protecting no one or making anything up. I’m using the experience to explore the issue further and find out your ideas on the subject of social media conflict.

  1. Ask for a second (third, fourth, fifth) opinion. When faced with conflict, I opt for another set of eyes. It gives me a reality check as well as the opportunity to potentially hear from someone who knows the source better than I do. This practice has encouraged me to put the shovel back in the shed on multiple occasions. It’s also confirmed suspicions and led me to scope-out the landscape, shovel in hand.
  2. Ready to dig? Start with a comment that encourages dialogue. If the offense is coming from a blog, leave a comment. Present your case. Offer a link. The next volley (if there is one) will come from the offender’s side. It will also clue readers in on the conflict and the way it’s being handled (remember this).
  3. On Twitter? DMs are Priceless. This is advice that goes not only for realm of conflict, but for the entire Twitterverse as well. There are times to take conversations offline and out of the public eye. Granted, you can’t DM someone if you’re not following one another, but you can ask to take things offline if DMs aren’t an option. Sometimes you don’t have to shout your message out to the world for things to be heard at the appropriate volume.
  4. Surrender the Shovel. Whether you’ve sufficiently buried or been buried by the offender as a result of making your stand, you’ve gotta eventually put the shovel down. It can be as simple as ceasing to respond or realizing that the conversation isn’t going to evolve. Shovels should only stay in-hand when you feel a conversation has the chance of evolution. When that prospect ceases, it’s time to head to the shed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. The more discussion there is on this topic, the better chance we all have of building a toolbox of social media etiquette that’s equipped for dealing with a broad range of situations. Social media is still a very new bird in the tree of communication- the best we can do is not pick-off all of the birds from the get-go with a BB gun out of angst!

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.

  • WhosTalkin.com on Facebook