It’s harder face to face

Theoretical framework

The activity allows participants to experience situations that particularly young people have to deal with in an online environment today. Its aim is to open up a discussion about how online communication intertwines with the offline world, what are the commonalities and differences between communicating online and face to face. 

The data for the activity were obtained through an unrepresentative questionnaire survey among 96 young people aged 13–25. In the questionnaire, young people reported specific situations that they encountered online and that they found unpleasant.

By analyzing the situations, we have obtained a list of general elements that are often present in online communication, and based on the list we have created fictional dialogs that contained these elements.

“I saw an online post where a lady wrote how proud she was that she didn’t wear a mask in public today. I wrote her that it was inconsiderate and she responded with ‘shut up you brat’.”

Linda (not the real name)  

“Insults, humiliation, questioning one’s experience.”

Lukáš (not the real name) 

“People wrote to me and my friend ‘that can’t be their own ideas, better go take selfies for Instagram’.”

Simona (not the real name)

Practical guidelines

During the discussion, you can use the feeling cards, which are used in non-violent communication and can be found online in various language versions, but you can find it also as the opening method within this aspect.

It is not enough to provide a safe environment for the group only. It is necessary for the lecturers to think about their emotions and take care of themselves and their mental well-being.

Activity structure and instructions

Two trainers are needed to carry out the activity. Choose one of the dialogs included in the activity and divide the roles. Your task will be to act out a short scene. The trainers do not need to have experience with acting. The dialogs are simple and they take place in an online environment, so people only interact with each other verbally. 

The dialogs contain various topics. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these topics so that you can discuss them with the group. 

The stories open up the following topics:
  1. Luboš and Baru
  1. Inka and Paťa
  1. Renek and Ludy

The trainer should read the dialogs in advance and carefully consider whether they want to present the story. The stories could provoke negative emotions in the trainer and they should never be forced to act the dialogs out. If you do not feel up to it, skip this activity. It is totally okay.

Do not use this as a stand-alone activity. At first, a connection with the group has to be established. If you feel that the group is detached and withdrawn, choose a different activity. If you feel that the participants put their trust in you, you can carry out the activity. 

At the beginning of the activity, act out one dialog. There should be several copies of the dialogs distributed in the group so that participants can better follow the story.

Then, discuss for example the following issues:

Ask participants to think in smaller groups about how to change the dialogs so that no one involved feels bad at the end of the conversation. They should come up with specific suggestions for changes in the dialogs. Give them a few minutes to think about it.

Groups can decide whether they just want to read their suggestions or whether they would like you to reenact the dialog again applying their suggested changes (if you feel up to it as well). Discuss why they have decided to make the specific changes and ask how the other groups feel about the changes.

In our society, there is an idea that bisexual women automatically desire a polyamorous relationship or sex with men and women at the same time. For that reason, they may receive many unwanted sexual offers for threesomes. However, bisexuality has nothing to do with the number of people a person wants to have a relationship or sex with.

Common belief fallacy: The assumption that if multiple people say something, it must be true, even if there is no evidence. This is merely a fallacy, not a real argument. The real argument could be the statements of experts in the field or sociological research.

Source: Hate Free

Invincible ignorance: A person rejects the arguments presented because they only trust their experience or their common sense. This is merely a fallacy, not a real argument. It is difficult to argue against this fallacy and further discussion is virtually impossible.

Source: Hate Free

Wrapping up and reflection

At the end of the activity, discuss whether the participants think that a similar situation could really happen and whether similar situations happen often in the online environment.