Managing Conflict in Social Media Communities

Whenever your community has gone beyond and taken a misplaced stance in owning their truth and not open to others’ truth, a leader must deploy the “Sociability” trait.

Managing Conflict in Social Media Communities
Photo by Mulyadi / Unsplash

by Alvin C. Tanicala, MHA, RHIT

Let us explore the interaction of social media communities and conflict resolutions. As  leaders, who are members of  communities, we must understand why have our communities become hotbeds of conflict, often spilling out from the virtual realm to the real world.

Let us explore the key components: community, Social Media, and conflict.


According to the Basic Concepts of Sociology Guide (2021), a community is a collection of people in a geographical area. But it has now become more than just a location. German Sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies defined community as “an organic, natural kind of social group whose members are bound by a sense of belonging created out of every day contacts covering the whole range of human activities” (“Ferdinand Tönnies, German sociologist”, 2021).

Social Media

Social media is the new medium through which individuals, businesses, organizations, government, as well as a civil society engage and interact in this information age (Srivastava, 2013). This medium has permitted social connections and allowed for an extensive and unbridled flow of ideas that were impossible to do before.


They defined conflict as the felt struggle between two or more interdependent individuals over perceived incompatible differences in beliefs, values, and goals, or over differences in desires for esteem, control, and connectedness (Wilmot and Hocker, 2011).

For our purposes, we will use the ubiquity of social media as the arena for testing our leadership skill and how its various communities created so much friction within its membership that conflicts have been noted and that transformed the platform from a unifying tool to a divisive instrument. The divide between the two camps may stem from their biases. As each holds on to their values as the more superior point, as a leader, who must engage the members as fairly as much as possible, must know how to balance the needs of the community and the values of each member.

A Volatile Community

The word “community” has an identity problem. We have been meeting the word “community” often enough that we have made it part of our regular vocabulary. When we are asked to define it, it is easy because it constantly reminded us of its importance today.

We have different communities that are standing for several aspects of our life. For instance, Facebook has its own Community Page. According to Smith (2010), a Facebook Community Page is a new type of page dedicated to a topic or experience that is owned collectively by the community connected to it. He further says that Community Pages allow connection with others who share similar interests and experiences. Of course, it is known that Facebook as a social media platform that thrives in “community input” (Rouse, 2020).

However, these communities are now a mixture of debates and spirited arguments, to outright hateful postings. They have even spilled into the real world, where the members of this community have physically hurt each other because they cannot accept, agree, or consider their opponents’ views.

Traits to Deploy in Cases of Conflict

Whenever your community has gone beyond and taken a misplaced stance in owning their truth and not open to others’ truth, a leader must deploy the “Sociability” trait. A sociable leader is tactful and diplomatic (Northouse, 2021). They help foster cooperative relationships. Having these in place may mitigate any friction within the community, and true dialogue will hopefully appear.

“To make life meaningful through caring, listening, analysis, and deliberate decisions” — is my mission statement.  My statement was strengthened when set together with the traits mentioned by Northouse (2021). Making meaning would require intelligence and integrity. Intelligence in both cognition and emotion are key factors in creating meaningful interaction. Integrity in analysis and decision-making shows trust and a rounded view of situations. As I decide, I should see the completeness of the process.

Putting It all Together

Putting together care, effective listening, careful analysis, and deliberate decisions would allow me to “put on” or if I may use it as an acronym — C.L.A.D. (Care, Listen, Analyze and Decide).  I can engage an out-group with CLAD because they are drawn in the conversation. We are putting on them the ability to speak their truth and are welcome to. Their voices are not only heard, but also are empowered by the results. Leadership is also about managing meaning.


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