Nobody is perfect, and sometimes we get all up in our feelings and things take a turn for the worst. I’ve been in Thailand for six months and up until recently I avoided all stateside drama.
Last week, I got into it with a family member about social media etiquette while on Facebook. The discussion continued until I was privately messaged and told to stop stating my opinion immediately. I was scolded via voice message, and the conversation ended with the person saying, “Your greatest gift is that you are in Thailand. If not, I would knock your fucking teeth down your throat.”
The whole ordeal left me miffed because I didn’t really know how to feel about fighting abroad and fighting over the internet. It all just seemed really sophomoric to me. I mean, for me the fight hit a fever pitch in the early morning of my day, but for them the fight ended in the early evening. While the fight was important to me and I would’ve liked to discuss it further I had to move on with my day because I had classes and students to tend to. Normally I’m down for reconciliation, but the ordeal proved to be more than I could deal with at the moment.
I got to thinking about how differently the situation would have turned out if I was stateside. I think the fact that I would’ve been able to call the person could’ve made a difference. Maybe hearing their voice would’ve changed things. I thought about the fact that maybe the fight wouldn’t have escalated to what it did because it’s easy to be a social media gangsta, but it’s not so easy to say it all to someone’s face. I think if I was at home I probably would’ve felt different too, but because of the distance it felt pretty out of sight, out of mind. As far as fighting abroad, I think it’s terrible for the painfully obvious reason, which is that it can’t happen face-to-face. You can’t understand diction, intent or tone over the internet, so it’s easy for things to get miscontrued. I also think fighting abroad is hard because the conversation can end whenever you or the other person wants it to. From muting to blocking to unfriending, there are plenty of ways to shut somebody up via technology.
I know that fighting with people you love sucks, but fighting abroad is a whole different ball game, and it sucks even more when they can virtually opt out of you. So if I had the choice, I’d probably rather not fight at all, but I certainly wouldn’t want to do it abroad again. Whether it’s across the world, country or state it’s certainly no fun, so as for my suggestions about fighting abroad? Don’t. It’s best to keep the metaphorical waters between you and your loved ones calm – at least until you can cross the actual waters that separate you.
Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone while traveling, living or working abroad? How did you work out your disputes while abroad? Are you a blocker or a caller? I would love to hear from you guys in the comments about how you deal with conflicts abroad!