Social Media Saturday: Etiquette

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I’ve written extensively about the ways in which social media creates a toxic, unhealthy, dysfunctional environment. I’ve often said, “I don’t come into your house, take a shit on the floor, and throw my feces at your walls. Why are you coming onto my Facebook page and barfing your amateur ideas all over my personal page?”

Grow up.

But the problem is that no one ever sees her behavior as destructive. Instead, people say stupid things like, “Why are you trying to censor me? I’m entitled to my opinions. I have a right to freedom of speech.”

If you ever find yourself saying that, you’re the problem. Full stop. It’s you.

But back to the original point: how do you know when you’ve crossed the line? It’s a tough call. Here are my hard and fast social media etiquette rules so you don’t break the rules.

  1. If you’ve never met someone in real life, you are required to show respect. That’s just good advice in general.
  2. If you would never say something in real life, you cannot say it in a blog, tweet, or Facebook post.
  3. You have failed to communicate if you need more than one blog comment, tweet, or Facebook post to get your point across. Stop while you’re ahead.
  4. If your tone carries even the slightest subtle sexual tone to someone who is neither available nor receptive, you are responsible for apologizing for your comment.

One more thing: the assumption of intimacy is always a false assumption. I have learned this lesson. Just because someone pays attention to you and acknowledges your presence on a social networking site doesn’t mean he gives a rip about you in real life. That person isn’t donating a kidney if you need one. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but sometimes kindness is mistaken for friendship.

Now stop flinging shit at one another on Facebook walls and go play outside.

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