Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

In today’s digital world, it’s common for social media and online communities to become so toxic that the best we can do is ignore those of us who aren’t quite so into it. If we’re not careful, it can destroy ourselves, and the relationships we have.

What most of us don’t realize is that not everyone can get along the way we do. It is not always helpful to get angry over the comments left on a friend’s Facebook post, or to find ourselves losing interest in the social network we love. The challenge is to learn from our mistakes and grow into the kind of person who can share and connect with others with common values.

If you’ve been around an online community for a while, it’s hard to tell the difference between the genuine and the fake. Most of us have a sense that there is a core of people who “get” what we’re trying to say, but we are too intimidated to reach out to them and make friends. We can’t even seem to make peace when it comes to that annoying family from another state whose kid is more into Harry Potter than our kids are.

The solution, as I see it, is to learn more about what makes a good group. I want to share some tips with you:

Be open to new experiences. The worst thing you can do is think that you know “everything” about what makes a good community. In my case, we live in New York City, and we have lots of opportunities for socialization.

Get out of your bubble. The things you enjoy the most in your community won’t be the same things you’ll enjoy in another place and time, even with the same people. Do you like to play video games? Then get out of a game store with kids and go find the kids with the same interests you prefer to play with. Do you love socializing with other people? You may have to adapt to life in another country.

Know your group. Find out where and how you can bring new people into your group. This might mean going to an event like a convention, joining an online forum, or getting involved with a social media group. It might entail making friends and engaging deeply within a certain community. It may also mean trying to break away from the group that you thought was “your” group for a while.

Find a way to share experiences with the newbies. This means starting off slowly. Make a small but memorable commitment to being their friend. Start off with a simple interaction like giving them a thumbs up a time or taking an interest in a person’s life.

If the connection is strong, there is a good chance that they will continue to engage with you.

Be ready to grow. No one has access to social capital the way that a person does, so it might be hard to get the hang of things when all people do is react. That said, you must learn to adapt if you wish to enjoy new opportunities. Learning more about the core people in your community could be one way. Finding someone who has different interests than you can learn from can also be beneficial.

Learn to say no. This means listening to what the newbies have to say and then saying “NO!” to their request(s) at first, but moving on to their ideas once they’ve earned some respect.

Be respectful and understanding. This means responding respectfully and respectfully to the newbies in the community, even if they are wrong or offensive. This does not excuse your inauthentic behavior in interacting with the real folks who don’t think or understand like you.

If something causes you to break off your group relationships for a while, give them another chance.