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7 Offensive Things You Shouldn't Say on Social Media During War Times

Avoid these types of words and phrases.

You should always be careful what you say on social media. However, when there is war or serious world conflict going on in the world, you need to be hypervigilant about the messages you put out there. Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., author of Fragile Power: Why Having It All Is Never Enough explains that there is a term to describe the emotional trauma and physical stresses of active military conflict: "fog of war." In it, "people miscalculate fundamental truths and lose their clarity of judgment," he says. Historically, this phrase was used to describe combat on the ground, but in our hyper-connected, social media world, the fog of war can be used to describe "offensive dialogue shared online," he says. "To protect yourself from losing your dignity and grace in the fog of social media during these times of war, be hyperconscious about avoiding the following types of offensive rhetoric in these stressful times." Here are key offensive things you shouldn't say on social media during war times. 

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Avoid Using "Winning or Losing" Language

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Dr. Hokemeyer suggests avoiding language that contains desires for a win or loss. "In war, there are no winners. Humanity loses as sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters are sacrificed in the name of a political or religious ideology," he explains. 

Language That Conflates Fundamentalist or Minority Groups with Geographic Identities


Dr. Hokemeyer also urges against using language that conflates fundamentalist or minority groups with geographic identities. "Just like not all Trump Republicans are Americans and not all followers of Hamas are Palestinians, nor is everyone who lives in Israel a Jew," he says. 

Any Language That Justifies the Killing of Other Human Beings

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You should also avoid language that justifies the killing of other human beings, Dr. Hokemeyer says. "War is atrocious. The impact, devastating. No matter how strongly you feel about one side or the other, soldiers who fight and civilians who die, lose their homes and possessions, and suffer devastating trauma do not deserve it," he explains. 

Dehumanizing Language

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Avoid using language that dehumanizes other human beings, says Dr. Hokemeyer. "In the same vein as number three above, no person deserves to be called vicious names or treated like an animal."

Language That Elevates an Existing Online Argument


Try to avoid using language that elevates an existing online argument, urges Dr. Hokemeyer. "There is enough chaos, violence, and aggression in the world," he says. Instead, use your voice to "promote peace and a resolution to the multitude of destructive forces that are threatening our world order and our global wellbeing."

Accusing Someone of Being "Stupid" or an "Idiot"

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You shouldn't use language that makes someone else feel wrong or calls them stupid or an idiot, says Dr. Hokemeyer. "Wars and conflicts are the direct result of strident, binary positions. Social media magnifies and thrives on these differences. Wars are resolved and conflicts healed in the subtle nuances of truth that exist between the two binaries. Be a part of the healing rather than enhancing the destruction," he encourages.

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Dire Language


Don't use language that is fatalistically dire, Dr. Hokemeyer says. "Humanity is adaptive and resilient. While we lose our way at times, we are all called toward life and away from death and destruction. Be a part of the solution by posting about healing, hope, and peace rather than promoting hate and division," he explains. 

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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