• Steve Derenge

Navigating the Turbulent Waters of Facebook Wall Arguments

Reading provoking comments on Facebook and trying to have civil logical discourse with those who are emotionally agitated could feel like fighting a giant sea monster on its own turf with no boat, goggles, or plasma gun. The chances for chaos, confusion, miscommunication, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings may be prevalent compared to face-to-face encounters due to the limited structure of the platform. Here are some ideas on how to deal with that:

  • Be careful about getting sucked into that swirl of turbulent waters. Prevent some unwise battles with friends by bouncing your eyes and scrolling away from that feisty news feed post.

  • When you glance at a comment where the person shares an opinion with agitated emotions, ad hominem (name-calling), accusations, bitterness, hardheartedness, closed ears, etc., such a person may not be able to process a logical argument very well, as s/he is drowning in the waves of the sea monster of chaos. How does a lifeguard rescue such a person?

  • In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggin's mission was to find the arkenstone (or treasure). This treasure was guarded by a dragon. This dangerous, formidable dragon would get in Bilbo's way, threaten him, and distract him from his mission. Bilbo was on the dragon's turf and lacked the power and authority to slay this dragon. Somebody else would later have the power and authority to face and slay this dragon on his turf where the dragon trespassed, but Bilbo's particular assignment would not permit him to do so successfully.

  • Rather Bilbo had to find the treasure and bring it out. That was the assignment for which he was hand-picked and commissioned. What does this look like practically in the Facebook thread scenario?

  • Ask yourself, "What is the treasure within this person?" Just as Bilbo sought to sneak past the dragon unnoticed, you also want to "get past" the anger, tensions, ad hominem (name-calling), slander, foolishness, bitterness, victimization, hatred, etc., spewing from people’s mouths or written comments. Don't let that stuff get to you; stay rooted in seeing each person through the eyes of compassion and love.

  • Again, ask yourself, “Despite all this bitter venom in the person's words, buried beneath the surface of all that, what is the hidden treasure within this person?” Tell or message the person what you believe is that treasure and good qualities of the person which makes them passionate about the [political] issue. For better connecting with your friend, you might consider sending a private message. This could be further appropriate in case you don't want to risk getting pulled into the swirling sea of miscommunication by other drowning victims of the sea monster of pride.

  • Remember, it's not about winning an argument, but about showing people their immense value, empowering them to become who they were created to be.

  • Take care to make sure your attitude is that of humility and love, recognizing that the yucky stuff coming from their hearts (words) isn’t from their true created self. They’ve simply come under the influence of a prideful sea monster. So be like Bilbo and don’t let that dragon distract you from your mission of finding the treasure within the person and bringing it out.

Source: Job 41; Isaiah 27:1; Ephesians 6:12; Luke 6:45; Mark 7:21-23; 2 Timothy 2:23-26; etc.


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