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Be careful with online comments

Military spouse

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POSTED: January 16, 2014 1:30 p.m.

As we see news stories and Facebook posts sharing comments and critiques about recent budget items that directly impact military families’ futures, it is easy to sit back, type a snarky comment and continue the sharing train.
But what has that really done? Does a decision-maker see that comment or better understand the issue he or she is voting on? Have you helped educate someone in or around the military community about the issues at hand? Short answer: probably not.
Next time you stumble across a relevant topic or catch wind of a major concern, look for ways to be a little more intentional with information-sharing. Especially when you have a strong opinion, those quick clicks to share a story can catch up to you, and those quickly typed ideas easily can become misinterpreted.
Here are a few tips to keep you sharing and commenting without the potential for miscommunication or snarky feedback:
• When you are sharing an article that has the potential for quick reactions, take a moment to think about all sides of the story. You don’t have to spend hours, but quickly envision your potential feelings if you were on the other side of your comments. Would you feel attacked? Would you feel educated or clarified on your stance? If it is the latter, go forth and click “publish.” If it is the former, though, you may want to reconsider your wording. Sharing comments that put people on the attack mode — even through social media — can significantly impact your relationships, online and off.
• Have you been inspired by the latest and greatest coming out of Washington? Instead of taking to your favorite social-media profile to rant away the most recent indecencies, research your issue and assemble your talking points. It is fairly simple to find the contact information for your representative online and easy to make an email, letter or phone call if you feel passionate about an issue. Once you’ve checked the action box, feel free to share your thoughts and experience. If everyone who “liked” your status followed up with their representatives, we may see a little more response to our pleas — and fewer frustrated postings online.
• Social media and online news sites have done an amazing job of creating access to information for citizens from sea to shining sea — but we haven’t taken the charge with equal passion. We have this amazing access to information coming from lawmakers and journalists, but if we are inspired to act and respond, we should feel encouraged to do so. Your representative may not respond and your followers may not retweet, but it is in the intention to act that you’ve already climbed that tough first hill.
As you see and comment on others’ statuses and postings, remember that there are real people on the other side of the computer screen. It isn’t about creating the wittiest or sassiest retort, but articulately communicating the relevant points.  

Hewlett, a military spouse and mom of one, lives with her family in Richmond Hill.

 

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