Flame-out Conversations on Social Media

By Engineering at CambridgeNo real name given 

This post is a bit of a tangent for me and “A Veteran Runnah”, it looks at the stress that a conversation on a social media site can produce if you decide to let it go too far.

Last night on Twitter I got into a discussion with someone I have talked with on several occasions about the label of runner versus jogger (which is a bit of a hot button for me) and we finally agreed to disagree and changed the subject over to talking the weather instead of letting our conversation turn into a pissing contest where no one wins.

The other person made a Tweet discussing running versus jogging and his view of what constituted the difference and I tweeted my disagreement with his position on joggers and runners:

Me: “Disagree it isn’t the time that matters so much, as the getting out and doing it 🙂 #runchat”

Other person:  “Not me, if I am slow, then I’m a “night jogger” like in the book “Once a Runner” Don’t want to be a night jogger. Anyone can jog.”

Me:  “Sorry strongly disagree with you, if you go out there and put in the effort you are a runner, no division except age on runs”

Other person: “We’ll have 2 agree 2 disagree, trying is good, but doesnt make U anything, I can throw a football but I’m not a QB, running = fast”

Me: “no not everyone can or will run or jog, it takes a different look on life to be out there doing it whether slow/fast”

Other person: “Like folks that walk a marathon, they didn’t run it. Sorry Just my view. Running means something. Yes, the slower folks can be tuff”

Me:  Agree 2 disagree, but I know that I am a runner, no matter the speed or what others may say 🙂

Other person: “I no that I’m not a runner, just a jogger & a fail until I can get below 20 minutes, just a goal I set 4 myself, don’t judge others”

Me:  “I think this is where I tactfully suggest changing subjects, there is no winning this disagreement. How is the weather? :-)”

Other person: “Weather is good! Could be better if there was snow! LOL!”

It was a good conversation, but neither one of us was going to change our perspective based on a Twitter conversation and I recognized that. Instead of going “balls to the wall” and continuing the disagreement, escalating it pointlessly, I decided to stop it and change the subject, which was a lot harder for me than continuing the argument.

Why would I stop the great discussion that we were having? I did this because I like and respect the other person and want to keep the good relationship we have started to form through Twitter.  There was also a certain level of defensiveness starting to show up in both of our Tweets and I recognized the from past experiences what was starting – the start of a “flame-out”. So I put the brakes on and stopped it before any damage was done.

Growing up is hard, but I think that I am finally starting to. Damn – does that means that I have to behave myself and accept elder statesman status – hell no!!!!!  It just means that I watch what is coming out of my mouth (fingers) more and be more accepting when someone disagrees with my (in mind correct) position and find out the reasons and facts behind their stance before I go off half-cocked.

Does the need to be right all the time color our conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or other social media sites? From what I have seen of some of the public chats/conversations on those sites and others, there are a few out there who believe that way.

They get all bent out of shape if someone dares to disagree or has a different perspective on a subject, especially the more controversial ones such as politics, religion, sex, etc. Just this little exchange over an insignificant label about running could have gone over the edge and become a “pissing contest” where neither was listening to what the other was actually saying and gone on to being a bad flame-out.

I think most of us have watched these occur on social media sites and there is nothing good that comes out of a conversation that has devolved into a pissing contest, except hard feelings and looking stupid to others using that service.

No I honestly believe that we have a responsibility to disagree with those that we disagree with and to back up our reasons with more than “I said so”.  We need to do it politely and have our disagreements be based on civility, instead of name calling, resorting to intimidation, bullying, emotional one-upmanship, bait/switch topics or other tactics intended to attack or demean others you are talking with just to have the last word, push a certain perspective or make it seem that you are right not matter what.

I don’t go to social media sites to get stressed out and argue with other participants. I go there to learn, have conversations with others and if we disagree, do so civilly instead of carrying the disagreement to extremes.

Although at no time did this conversation reach those levels, it could have and I am glad that at the point when I was beginning to feel a little shall we say defensive, we switched the topic to a more neutral one that was not controversial to either one of us.

We continued to talk for a few more minutes and learned a little more about one another that we hadn’t known before. Which I really think is the purpose of social media, its ability to bring people together who wouldn’t have talked before. If we had gone any further with the other topic, I do not believe that we would have continued the collegial conversation that we ended on, so I am thankful that we stopped when we did.

Is this the best way to handle a disagreement online or even face-to-face when a disagreement happens and you know there will be no changing the other person’s mind at that time – just stopping and changing the subject?

  • Have you ever gotten into a pissing contest with someone online?
  • Was it worth the stress and time?
  • Did they stop and suddenly see the light of your side?
  • Did you let it go or did you continue the hostilities?
  • How did you feel after you stopped.

No flame out conversations on social media platforms are not worth the stress and worry that they cause, all too often it is simply better to walk away – it may not be easier, just better.

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