According to Facebook, in the 24 hours after the grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, 11 million people had 33 million interactions about Ferguson on the site. If you were paying attention to your feed that day (or any day since), we're sure you noticed those interactions were not all harmonious.
Personally, I may have almost unfriended some immediate family members over some of the crap they said. Which is why we should all be grateful that WNYC's New Tech City recently tackled the dilemma of what to do when your virtual friends post racist remarks.
The radio show commissioned a survey of 300 Facebook users and found that 46 percent said they had seen conversations about race in their feed in the past month. Surprisingly, only 30 percent said they considered unfriending someone because posts or comments offended them.
Obviously, people are a lot more tolerant than I am, even on the Internet, where words can get much uglier than they would in real life face-to-face interactions. After consulting with experts, New Tech City came up with an elaborate flowchart that should help all of us decide if and how to respond to such comments.
It all depends on how much you actually care about the person, and whether you feel you can help to change the tone of the conversation for the better. Turns out that in some cases, you really should just unfriend or block those offensive folks. At other times, you have an opportunity to employ something called the LARA method, which is practiced by conflict resolution experts for in-person dialogue. It stands for "Listen, Affirm, Respond, Add." It's simple, but also something of a revelation for those of us used to knee-jerk responses (or just silently fuming).
In fact, we all could probably stand to do use this technique in all kinds of different conflicts, both on and offline. Click through to check out a handy flowchart to help you choose a course of action. (New Tech City)