Keeping It Civil: Using FPF During Divisive Times

Have you ever been fired up about a posting you read on Front Porch Forum?

Well, it's not uncommon for postings from neighbors to trigger strong feelings. When this happens, please take a deep breath and consider the points below before blasting away with a message of your own.

The effectiveness of each local FPF depends on keeping a civil, constructive and neighborly tone. It's one thing to tear into someone on Facebook or to be snarky on Twitter, but on FPF you are talking with your neighbors, people who make up the community you call home.

So, please consider these tips when using FPF:

  • If you feel triggered, consider skipping over the offending postings.
  • Don't assume the worst about what a neighbor means if a posting isn't totally clear. Be curious and ask questions.
  • When replying to the forum about a heated subject, consider waiting 24 hours before hitting SEND.
  • When posting about a heated topic, focus on the issue and not on a person. Mentioning specific people in this way moves the conversation away from a debate of the issue and toward people just taking sides.
  • Avoid being "snarky" in your FPF postings. A sarcastic attitude conveys disrespect to your neighbors and poisons local relationships.
  • Please don't email a personal attack to the author of an FPF posting. That violates FPF Terms of Use and is grounds for removal.
  • If you enter into a debate on your FPF, please come with thick skin. You will likely hear from people who disagree with your point of view. Someone respectfully disagreeing with your idea is not a personal attack.
  • Use FPF to start and accelerate community conversation about challenging topics. However, please take extended debate elsewhere, ideally to an in-person facilitated discussion.

FPF's mission is to help neighbors connect and build community by hosting networks of online local forums. In most locations, a majority of neighbors participate and post about a wide variety of topics. All of these friendly exchanges among neighbors add up to a stronger sense of community.

This increase in "social capital" among neighbors can then be drawn upon in times of need, like recovering from a flood or fire, or dealing with an especially hard school budget debate. Or it can even be tapped when learning about racial justice or addressing a pandemic.

On the other hand, fighting among neighbors on FPF erodes that store of social capital, which makes your community less resilient in times of hardship.

Bottom line, please continue to use FPF for every-day exchanges among neighbors. Also feel free to use it to introduce and catalyze harder conversations. But when doing so, please have a thick skin and treat your neighbors with respect. Thank you and be well.

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