Digital Disagreement

When President Obama was running for office, I remember him talking about "disagreeing without being disagreeable" or something very close to that. He was referring to the tone and tact of our political debates, but the point has equal application in the digital world.

When we don't have to look someone in the eye, it's easier to spout freely. And yet so much discourse occurs on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. Twitter poses further challenges given the 140-character limit. An argument that might take 60 seconds in person can stretch across dozens of tweets—fragmenting even simple contentions.

For those of us who work or play in the digital world, it's important to practice patience, listening (i.e. careful reading and cross-referencing), and self-regulation. I've said this many times before: Think before you tweet! Type, read, and delete or edit, then re-read, and eventually send. Haste is the enemy of patience and speeds our way to becoming disagreeable.

Breathe. Reasonable minds can differ. Patient people can reason. Reasonable, patient people can listen and debate, even when faced with digital obstacles.