Have you ever noticed how conflict can get blown out of proportion online? What may begin as a small difference of opinion,Conflict in Cyberspace: How To Resolve Conflict Online Articles or misunderstanding, becomes a major issue very quickly. Conflict can be difficult at the best of times, but what is it about online communication that seems to ignite “flaming” and make conflicts more difficult to resolve?
There are a number of reasons to explain why conflict may be heightened online. One is the absence of visual and auditory cues. When we talk to someone in person, we see their facial expressions, their body language, and hear their tone of voice. Someone can say the exact same thing in a number of different ways, and that usually effects how we respond.
For example, someone could shout and shake their finger at you, or they could speak gently and with kindness. They could stand up and tower over you, or they could sit down beside you. How you feel, interpret, and respond to someone’s message often depends on how they speak to you, even when it’s a difficult message to hear.
In online communications, we have no visual or auditory cues to help us to decipher the intent, meaning, and tone of the messenger. All we have are the words on a computer screen, and how we hear those words in our head. While people who know each other have a better chance at accurately understanding each others’ meaning and intentions, even they can have arguments online that they would not have in-person.