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Did You See What She Posted? Options for How High School Students Can Respond to Negative Social Media Comments

media-998990_1920When I graduated high school in 2007, social media was just starting to take off. My sophomore year of high school I created a MySpace page, which was the only social media outlet I had, and I could only visit it from my computer at home. Facebook didn’t come out until the beginning of my senior year, and it didn’t catch on in my high school until a couple of months before graduation.  Twitter didn’t pick up speed until I was in college which was also when everyone started getting iPhones. Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist. It is crazy that I only graduated nine years ago from high school, and my experience is so much more different than kids today.

When I was in school, and I got into a fight with a friend, we wouldn’t speak to each for the rest of the day. Perhaps we would call each other after school or get on AOL instant messenger and have a fight, but getting online and battling it out were still somewhat unfamiliar. Nowadays, you fight with a friend, and before you reach your next class, she could have already posted a status and tweeted about it.

High school was not my most favorite years – which are a sentiment many people share. High school was tough then. However, I don’t believe it is anywhere close to how tough it is now.  Social media and smartphones have taken high school, bullying, and conflict to a whole new level.

Students have access to social media all throughout the school day and posting or tweeting negative remarks can be done quickly and easily, right from the palm of their hand. If you are a student, how can you respond to these negative and many times destructive comments?

  1. Approach your friend and talk about the post face-to-face. An intimidating idea, but social media networks and the internet provide anyone a platform to say things they may not have the courage to say otherwise. Ask to speak to your friend privately, and explain how the post made you feel and ask what the reason was for posting it to the world. Lastly, discuss what could be done to resolve the issue.
  1. Ignore it. If you don’t act like the comment or the post bothers you then, they are not receiving the reaction which is most likely what they want. By ignoring them, you are not giving their harmful words power. 
  1. Kill them with kindness. My best friend, Maria is the nicest person you will ever meet, and she is kind to everyone. When another girl was acting nasty towards Maria rather than treating the girl in a mean way, Maria continued to be friendly. I asked Maria, “Why did you respond this way?” She said if you are nice to everyone regardless of what they say, then the person who makes negative comments or acts mean is the one that looks bad. Therefore, if someone comments or posts that the outfit you are wearing in a picture is hideous, you could respond with something neutral and friendly. For example: “I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ve always thought you had excellent taste in clothes perhaps you could give me some pointers?”
  1. Talk to someone. I stress this point because many students today think if they tell someone they will look like a tattle-tale. However, if negative or destructive comments persist it is imperative that you tell a trusted adult, especially if you feel threatened.
  1. Limit or close your accounts. I am not suggesting you do this permanently – but not allowing people to have access to you will limit their ability to hurt you.

High school is just a small portion of your life – learning how to address negative and destructive posts and comments now, will prepare you for the real world later.

Have a Great Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management


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Virtual Disputes Are Very Real: Resolving Consumer Complaints

ecommerce_472With the internet being as prevalent as it is today, most people have either bought or sold items online. Some people rely on the internet as their main method of shopping, while others use online resources to compare competing prices before physically heading to the store. No matter how you use the internet for business, conflict is an underlying issue that is definitely going to be included in transactions. It is important for you to understand that these types of conflicts are unique because of the distance and anonymity between the seller and buyer. Usually, the individuals conducting business do not know each other and most likely will never meet. There is in a sense a virtual disconnect between seller and buyer; however, disputes between the two remain very real. Language barriers and cultural differences on both sides of the transaction create an even more complex situation.

So how have websites like eBay, a major online shopping platform, been so successful in establishing smooth transactions and customer confidence? The reason for these successes is primarily due to a trust-based feedback system. After each transaction, both the seller and buyer leave feedback remarks about each other. That way, a new customer can choose a vendor and read about the experiences of previous customers. Additionally, this motivates sellers to conduct legitimate and appropriate business because a negative review might deter a future buyer. This method has created a safe and organized business environment amongst strangers that other marketplaces like Craigslist cannot offer. However, even with this structure, conflicts are bound to arise.

On a previous Texas Conflict Coach® radio show, Colin Rule, current CEO of Modria, an online dispute resolution company and former eBay and PayPal’s director of online dispute resolution spoke about some of the issues he noticed when dealing with online disputes. During his time with eBay, he created a page with advice on how to deal with conflicts. Interestingly, when the strategies were localized for the Italian eBay site, many believed that the tips were written in a patronizing way. Instead of directly changing the advice, the importance was on rephrasing it in a culturally acceptable way. Cultural standards and social boundaries are often overlooked during online disputes. Another strategy towards preventing online disputes that Rule mentioned while on the show was the significance of creating a personal or conversational relationship with the users. It is easy to skip over traditional conversational norms when dealing online with a person you will never meet. Rule mentions that being polite and conducting online interactions more similarly to face-to-face interactions has better results in resolving disputes.

However, when online disputes cannot be resolved through the use of a feedback system or personal negotiation, a neutral third-party is most beneficial. Centers like Youstice, featured on a previous show, and Modria provide the resources for turning online disputes into resolutions. These types of sites provide quick results and allow the customer to feel like their disputes are more personalized. The issue of a language barrier is overcome with the help of Youstice because their system automatically translates disputes and interactions into the corresponding language. eBay currently uses a similar third-party dispute resolution center in order to reduce hurried negative feedback posts, create customer trust and resolve online disputes in a timely and fair manner.

If you are interested in learning more about online conflicts and dispute resolution, visit this resource and also check out Online Dispute Resolution for Business (Jossey-Bass, 2003) written by Colin Rule.

John Wagner

Student Intern

Salisbury University – Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution

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Supporting Conflict Resolution Skills in Social Media and Online Forums

To learn more about Cyberweek and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) activities, visit ADRHub.com.

Leah Wing

Tom Murray








Social media and the Internet are transforming society, providing new benefits but also new hazards. Some have suggested that online communication and collaboration may lead to decreased civility, mutual understanding, and communicative clarity, as compared with face-to-face methods. Such negative trends can occur, but are they inevitable? We have been investigating whether online communication tools can actually support more skillful communication and deeper mutual understanding, especially in situations involving conflict, controversial topics, or differences in goals and perspectives.

What if online interactions could be designed to support more empathy, self-reflection, perspective taking, civility, and curiosity? Our preliminary research on new tools which support these abilities have found that they do foster better communication and conflict resolution skills in people engaged in online interactions. In this discussion we will explore these issues, giving some examples, and speak about tools for supporting positive conflict resolution skill use for social media and online communication.


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