How to Be Less of a Jerk in Facebook Arguments

People continue to fight on Facebook. So, if you are going to argue online, at least be a little bit less of a jerk.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #381

One of my earliest Modern Manners Guy episodes dealt with Facebook etiquette, and since then—despite Mannerly Nation’s efforts to fix Facebook faux pas—some people still take to social media to “have it out.”  Why, people, why?!  I mean, think about it: would you really yell at that person face to face? Probably not. So why pick fights on Facebook?

Now, as much as I hate to see people bicker like elementary schoolers on the playground, I realize that fighting on Facebook is inevitable for some. So, if and only if you do have a disagreement on Facebook, at least do it properly and with civility. Check out my top three quick and dirty tips for arguing on Facebook without being a huge jerk:

Tip #1: Don’t Bring Reinforcements

Straight from the Modern Manners Guy email box, Matt emailed me about an argument he and his roommate, Joe, were having over cleaning their apartment. Turns out neither was what you would consider a “neat freak,” but they both pointed fingers at the other for being the bigger slob of the household. Matt would post a pictures of Joe’s grimy dishes piled up in the sink, with a comment reading, “All hail the most disgusting roommate alive!” So, Matt would counter back with a picture of Joe’s disgusting pile of filthy clothes (a mixture of sweaty gym clothes and work shirts), tagging Joe in the photo. Needless to say, this bickering became a public and bratty game of “One-Upmanship,” with neither making a proper claim about who was the neater person. It was all fun and games until Joe invited Matt’s college roommate Aaron into the mix. Problem was, Aaron hasn’t lived with Matt for five years, and did not wish to be brought into their public Facebook fight. Yet, post after post included the comment, “Aaron Baker, tell me I’m right!”

Even though Matt and Joe’s Facebook fight seemed harmless—aside from humiliating one another online—that did not make it okay to bring in a third party. The most bizarre part was that Aaron never liked or commented on any of their improper posts. However, now to everyone watching, Aaron was a vital part of solving the messy debate. Folks, it’s highly improper to add someone to a Facebook conversation that does not wish to be a part of it. Sure, you can tag an old friend in a high school photo for a little #ThrowBackThursday, but dragging them into a fight unwillingly is just improper. Yes, Matt and Joe had a good bit of banter going back and forth, but it was essentially a two-man argument. Aaron could care less and should not feel obligated to participate in their fight. If you’re going to argue on Facebook, keep it light, comical, and leave out others who are not willingly involved.

Tip #2: Don’t Get Bitterly Personal

The most improper Facebook argument is when people get bitterly personal with one another online. We’ve all seen this before. When people get super-intimate with their Facebook arguments, it can take a small disagreement into a giant, monster of a fight with uglier results than you could imagine. For example, let’s take Matt and Joe’s “Great Stink Debate” and turn it up a notch. Sure it’s a good time for ribbing your roommate for leaving a dirty sock on the couch that you both use, however, what if we upped the ante on the insults? What if Matt said, “Maybe if you kept your room clean, Rebecca wouldn’t have dumped you!” Or, how about Joe adding insult to injury with, “Yeah, it’s OK if you keep your dirty dress shirts lying around… You can’t get a job anyway, so you won’t need to get them dry cleaned.” Harsh right? I mean, those are some deep cutting, hard hitting ways to get under someone’s skin. And now they're on Facebook for everyone’s social circles to see. Hardly how people should be interacting on Facebook, regardless of how heated they are.