How Kentuckians can be good online citizens

Election season is upon us and tensions can run high on social media and elsewhere. A functioning democracy needs people to discuss ideas, principles and events – without name-calling, deceit, or the destruction of relationships.

Practicing good online citizenship will allow every Kentuckian to stand up for what they believe, without tearing down their neighbors.

Here are a few tips to be a good online citizen:

1. Talk about what you’re for – not about your frustrations with opponents. “I support a lower speed limit because it will be safer for our kids.” That’s a positive message about your perspective. It’s more civil – and more effective! – than making accusations against opponents. “They don’t care if our kids die.”

2. Check your facts. Spreading untruths is not good for anyone. There are numerous websites that fact-check common social media stories. You can also go to the source. Before you say, “the media won’t even cover this,” use Google to see if the media did, in fact, cover it.

3. Try truly listening to the other side. It’s easy to make assumptions about people’s motivations or reasoning. But trying asking questions instead. “Why do you support that measure?” “Tell me more about why you feel that way.” You may find that you more common ground than you think.

— Beverly Bartlett

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