Tech & The Web

It’s OK to Control Your Conversation on Your Social Media


When you post something controversial on social media, those who disagree will sometimes try to control your conversation.

When you post something on social media, you’re starting a conversation. You hope someone will chime in. But more and more, people who disagree are taking steps to “win” the argument by trying to shift or control your conversation.

I don’t allow that.

I recognize the attempt to shift the argument for what it is.

The story I posted focused on NBC News’ attempts to cover the Hunter Biden story, one the White House and supporters of President Donald Trump have argued that media outlets are intentionally ignoring.

Far less than ignoring the story, NBC News published an interesting journey about why it’s so difficult to cover it. One key point: officials claim documents prove their accusations but won’t provide access. Does that seem odd to anyone?

The article takes each turn, point by point, and analyzes what they can and can’t confirm.

It’s an interesting look at the journalistic process and the fact-checking challenges that journalists face — but that political pundits and bloggers don’t.

One commenter, who I used to work with and should know better, chimed in first. One of her points was a classic turnaround:

“We’d be mistaken to say that stuff on both sides has not been censored or covered.”

Sorry, but this isn’t a conversation about “stuff on both sides.” This is about one side claiming journalists are intentionally ignoring a story for political reasons. I invited her to take up the “both sides” argument on her profile. If that’s the conversation she wants to have, after all, she can lead that one.

Another commenter took a more hostile stance.

He told me that if the story were about Trump and his family, the press would be all over it. He then hit the all caps button: “DO NOT EVEN ATTEMPT TO DENY IT!!” Then, he decided to add this:

“You may rationalize all you like but media is so biased, they CAN NOT be trusted.”

I didn’t point out that he meant to say cannot, not “can not.”

We in the media prefer good grammar whenever possible.

I told him that he doesn’t get to come on my profile and tell me what I can and can’t believe or what I can and can’t deny. I wouldn’t allow my father to do that. So I certainly won’t allow him to do so.

I pointed out that the story, which I doubt he even bothered to read, details attempts to access the documents needed to fairly and accurately report the story. It also details not only the fact officials aren’t handing them over, but that two outlets that did get them say they don’t “prove” what they’re believe to prove.

“The story lists key points in the accusations and then addresses each one and what they have or haven’t been able to confirm (and why), point by point,” I wrote. “Does that sound like they’re ignoring the story?”

Then, I pointed out what should be obvious: I work in the media.

“If you think we’re such terrible, horrible, biased people who can’t be trusted, exactly why am I in your friends list?” I asked.

He never responded.

Don’t let someone else control your conversation.

It’s easy to lose sight of your point when someone else attacks. But you have to take a step back and look at their argument. Are they responding to your point or are they trying to twist things to make their point?

The first commenter even tried to pull the classic retreat move. She suggested that if I didn’t want opinions, I shouldn’t post.

I didn’t put up with that tactic, either. It’s not that I don’t want opinions; I don’t want opinions that aren’t related to the opinion I’m arguing.

If she wanted to actually dispute the topic I posted about, I’m down for that.

But she doesn’t get to change the conversation to something she’d rather talk about and then get mad when I won’t turn my sandbox upside down to accommodate her.

It’s a shame we’re so divided that we’ve forgotten how to listen to each other.

We’d rather bully each other and try to force our opinions on others and gain control of the discussion by subterfuge.

I’m sorry so many people think that’s acceptable. But you don’t have to accept it…especially in your space!

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.