Five Ways To Handle People You Disagree With

There are two types of people on the internet:

1) Those who agree with me.
2) Those who disagree with me.

harrumph-some-complete-stranger-on-the-internet-just-disagreed-with-me-again-629d2

Still, do they all need a response from me? Is it my job to set everyone else straight?

Engagement Without Enmity

I think there are ways to engage well with people who write blogs or comment on blogs. After all, most people write those things because they want to state their opinion and perhaps have an influence on others.

So here are my top five ideas for engaging people on the internet:

1) My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20.)

2) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew5:9.)

3) “Many words mark the speech of a fool.” (Ecclesiastes 5:3.)

4) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14.)

5) A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1.)

Did I say those are my ideas? They’re not, of course, and many times I fail to live out the life of love evidenced in these verse. But these are the things I hope to keep in mind as I engage people whether on the Internet or in real life.

Because all those people who comment and blog? They’re all real people, just like you and me.

Here’s one more guideline, one that Jesus said sums up all the rules there have ever been or ever will be:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7:12.)

And that’s how you deal with people you disagree with.

***

Bonus fun – Let’s see what our friends at Blimey Cow have to say about disagreeing with internet people:

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24 Responses to Five Ways To Handle People You Disagree With

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    Those Blimey Cow guys are a hoot. And yes, this is a great topic!

  2. Jeannie says:

    Haven’t heard from Blimey Cow in so long — thanks for that. And thanks for those great reminders about engaging with those we’re in conflict with, whether virtually or otherwise.

    • Tim says:

      I bet the Bible writers never dreamed these passages would be used for something like relating to people on the internet!

      • Jeannie says:

        If they had, it might have looked something like this (what am I talking about — it would have looked exactly like this!):
        – “My dear brothers and sisters, read the whole post (not just the title) before firing off a scathing denunciation.”
        – “Blessed are those who sleep on it (and maybe pray on it) before hitting Send.”
        – “Many words are the mark of a blog commenter who’s got his or her knickers in a knot.”
        – “When someone disagrees with your blog post; thank them for commenting, don’t call them names.”
        – “A gentle response to a hostile comment calms the waters; flaming the commenter back just riles things up.”
        – “Tweet others as you’d like to be tweeted.”

  3. Laura Droege says:

    Wonderful thoughts, Tim. I have this horrible problem with reading comments on news sites. They’re always a strange mix of name calling, trolling, and less-than-reasonable dialogue, and usually they make me a little depressed at the state of the world. And blog posts…whew! That can inspire some awful arguments, even between Christians. Thank goodness I have blogs like yours and other people (mostly people I’ve met through you) that seem to gather level-headed comments and kinder people. It’s refreshing.

    • Tim says:

      I’m glad to say that the blogs I frequent attract the nicest folks, and they let me come along too.

    • Ruth says:

      Oh so true Laura! I’ve given up reading comments to news articles etc, aesthetic do leave me a bit disheartened by the uncontrolled vents from some posters. Tim’s blog is the sweet voice of reason, with back- bone thrown in for good measure, I too come here for refreshing, kind, cheerful interaction with others. This is my first read of the day, never disappoints! 🙂

      • Tim says:

        Thank you so much, Ruth!

        (I think Sweet Reasoned Backbone would be a good title for a blog. Or a band.)

        • Ruth says:

          You are very welcome! My son suggests a Christian Metal Band, (so long as they don’t have t shirts with bones on them…yuk!), he likes your potential title, so do I. 🙂
          See, you’ve done it again, made feel cheerful and smiley. 🙂

  4. Pastor Bob says:

    I like this. One person – blogger responded to something: My blog My rules.
    What a difference.

    • Tim says:

      I can’t say I’ve never had to pull that but usually it’s someone who has gone beyond the pale and refuses to listen to my guidance on commenting, so I end up just deleting their comment. That’s only happened 2-3 times since I started this blog.

  5. Ruth says:

    Not related to today, I’ve just read your blog about 26 years married, and various dates in time. Mine goes like this each March for 5 years now. 27th, darling mum passed away, 30th our wedding anniversary(29 years), 31st, dads birthday, 1st April, mums funeral, 2nd April, husbands birthday. We used to go out, them and our sons, every year for an all-in- one celebration, now, we go out later in the month…too hard close to so many things.
    Not today’s topic, but, well you know I can talk the leg off an iron pot…..:)

    • Tim says:

      I’m glad that other post struck a chord with you, Ruth. I know what you mean about adjusting our traditions and celebrations as life changes. Your family sounds wonderful.

  6. EricaM says:

    I’m sometimes tempted to join in on an argument, and remind myself of just what these guys are saying. I try to reserve friendly debates for real life. It’s much easier to keep the anger to a minimum when the person is in front of you. I’ve seen a very few online debates that remained friendly and calm on both sides, but that’s very rare.

    Per the advice here, I usually think “All right, if someone came up and said this to me, would I even pay them any attention?” If the answer’s no, then I shut my mouth and talk about cute cat videos. Everyone likes cute cat videos.

  7. Hi Tim, I’m back from summer holidays and catching up on your posts. This one struck a chord with me because I remember, when I first started my blog, holding my breath in anticipation of people disagreeing with me. But as it turned out, instead of antagonism, mostly I’ve received indifference, which has been surprisingly difficult to handle. So I don’t know – maybe my blog just isn’t relevant, or maybe I need to figure out how to be more visible. But most of the people that I’ve told about my blog just haven’t bothered to check it out… Sigh. Do you have any suggestions? Your blog is funny and relevant and helps keeps me informed about what’s out there in the world outside the box I live in, so thank you! Maureen

    • Tim says:

      One way I gathered some early support was by doing a lot of guest posts before I even started my blog. Those still seem like a good way to develop relationships, even if just short term. Would you like to consider writing something for me that you think might fit the tone of the train wreck here?

      • Wow, Tim, that would be wonderful! Bless you!!! Would it have to be something new, or something that’s already been posted? I can think of at least one thing that I’ve already written that might suit, how about
        http://emotionallyrich.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/faith-in-the-storm/
        I thought about this one after reading what you wrote about Mary and Martha and I think it has the same tone. Let me know what you think. I am feeling a little stressed about writing something new, but this is such a generous offer on your part that I can certainly try. Thank you so much for suggesting it! Maureen

  8. Hester says:

    First big rule of comboxes: if another commenter is making you angry, don’t talk to them. And if you’re already engaged with them and you have to respond, give yourself time to cool off first. Do otherwise, and you will end up saying something nasty / stupid / otherwise not cool. If you find that you’ve violated this rule, you’ll either have to 1) take your lumps and face the consequences, or 2) email the moderator and ask for your comment to be removed ASAP, before the other person sees it (yes, I actually did this once).

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