One of the topics at a recent lunch with colleagues (see yesterday’s blog) was a social media site of/for local mothers.  While some of the exchanges I glanced at were helpful and appropriate, others were a bit outrageous and contained more private information than I wanted to know about the author. 

It appeared that some mothers fully trust the parenting advice other mothers were giving via this site.  Even though the responding mothers had no credentials as behavioral specialists or in some cases were giving inaccurate information about some factual questions, it seemed that people were trusting social media replies even though there was no reason to believe their credibility.

On more emotional matters, combating opinion with facts just led to a back and forth exchange and made people more passionate about their stand.  They became invested in their own position vs. becoming open to the viewpoint of others.

I believe this phenomenon occurs in all kinds of forums beyond the parenting blog.  The vitriol nature of political advertising causes people to actively defend their position rather than considering the opposing side.  Fostering debate about raising children polarizes the views instead of merging them.  Rants about social needs are met with backlash about the cost of addressing them.  

Think about your purpose the next time you pick up a pen or fire up the keyboard.  The more you rant, the more they rave and the differences become magnified rather than bridged.  

Opinions are changed through personal connections and by calm sharing of stories, not by digital diatribes on anonymous media postings.  

— beth triplett

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