Have you been called a ‘snowflake’? You can get mad, or get empathetic

Weblog: Dylan Marron’s Ted talk on how to deal with online abuse on social media

Dylan Marron: decided to have conversations with people that hated him

Dylan Marron: decided to have conversations with people that hated him

 

Remember being online in the early 2000s when the worst insult you could have thrown at you was “n00b”’? Now, five minutes on social media is a walk through a hailstorm of “cuck”, “SJW”, “snowflake” or whatever other insult a stranger feels like screaming in caps. You can get mad. . .or you can get empathetic, says podcaster and TED speaker Dylan Marron.

Marron’s Ted talk is about his podcast Conversations with People Who Hate Me, and the idea that extending empathy to people whose worldview is different from yours, and asking to have a civil offline conversation with them, is a first step towards diffusing negative discourse on social media.

He acknowledges how difficult this is: “At first, I would screenshot their comments and make fun of their typos, but this soon felt elitist and ultimately unhelpful.” Instead, Marron decided to start a conversation with: “Why did you write that?”

This led to candid phone conversations where some reflected on their online behaviour and the very real people affected by their negative comments. “Sometimes, the most subversive thing you could do was to actually speak with the people you disagreed with, and not simply at them,’ says Marron.