Why you should never start an argument on Facebook

Let's be honest: most of us have made at least one mistake on Facebook. What is the worst crime?

Experts on netiquette tell us to stay away from the keyboard, especially when it comes to hot-button issues. It turns out that this isn't just a sign that you share too much on Facebook; research shows that it could also mean that you react differently to an opinion you read online.

At least, a new study in the journal Psychological Science says that's the case. Researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago asked 300 people to read about controversial topics, watch a video, or listen to arguments about them. Then, the people who took part were asked questions about the ideas they didn't agree with.

What were they? People who listen to or watch someone speak opposing views are less likely to say that the speaker is "uninformed or heartless." People who read the arguments, on the other hand, are more likely to think that opposing views are wrong.

You won an argument on Facebook? False. No one wins an argument online. -  Dwight - quickmeme

Some experts say this is because people think they can be anonymous on the web. Wendy Mencel, director of the Canadian School of Protocol and Etiquette, told Reader's Digest that people are much more outgoing on Facebook than they are in real life. "There is a disconnect between what they write and how they come across, and they forget that their words can hurt people. Social media opens us up to more scrutiny, and we have to be conscious of what message we’re projecting to the world.”

In light of these results, the researchers say that people should talk to each other about their differences instead of firing up the keyboard. While it’s easy for tempers to flare over social media, meeting face-to-face can smooth out disagreements and even create compromise, they say.

So the next time you want to jump into a heated Facebook argument, think about setting up a lunch date or phone call with the person instead. Trust us, it could save your reputation and the people you care about. But Facebook users aren't off the hook yet. Even on Facebook, you should never, ever do these things.

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