Arguing With Someone Online? Research Shows That You’re Wasting Your Time

You’ve probably seen this before:

Someone tweets an opinion about a contentious topic. Someone else retweets that opinion and adds in some snark and sarcasm to it.

That person with the original tweet comes back and retweets their response and adds in their own snark.

Pretty soon it becomes a back and forth virtual shouting match where both parties eventually block each other or abandon the conversation altogether.

So at the end of the day, did anything come out of it?

Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re wasting your time with online arguments. Don’t believe me? Well, there’s research to prove that.

Research Says Online Arguments Don’t Help

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According to a study done by researchers from UC Berkeley and the University Of Chicago, we tend to respond very differently to what people write than to what they say–even if those things are exactly the same.

In their study, 300 subjects read, watched videos of, or listened to arguments about such hot-button topics as war, abortion, and country or rap music. Afterwards, subjects were interviewed about their reactions to the opinions they disagreed with.

What were the results? There was a distinct difference between those who had watched or listened to someone speak the words out loud and those who had read the identical words as text. Those who had listened or watched someone say the words were less likely to dismiss the speaker as uninformed or heartless than they were if they were just reading the commenter’s words.

Have A Strong View On Feminism? Maybe You Need To Take It Offline

The research would suggest that if you have a disagreement or difference in opinion about a contentious issue, maybe the best way to come to a compromise might be to hash it out in person than through Twitter threads and Facebook comments.

Maybe the person who disagrees with Feminism online might not be the “idiot” that you think he/she might be and perhaps they might have a better understanding of the topic over a nice cup of coffee in real life.

No Empathy On The Internet?

Nowadays, most of our interactions take place online through Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter. Sometimes we have disagreements on contentious issues. Maybe instead of texting your arguments, you might want to take a short video of yourself (or someone else’s video) and make your argument from there.

In the end, if you’re arguing that the NPP government is better than the past government and someone has a very strong disagreement with you, maybe you might want to hold off on firing that strongly worded response.

Whether it’s feminism, relationships, dating, infidelity or other topics which might get people “triggered”, maybe folks should discuss some of the issues offline instead of focusing on “clapbacks” and threads.


Thanks to Jennifer Hart (@DetroittoAccra) for sharing the article with me.