Social Media: Some Reminders

Over the last couple of weeks, I have witnessed some behavior online that has really made me rub my eyes in disbelief. Considering that I primarily use Social Media for professional reasons, and thus am mostly surrounded by people who are using it for the same reasons, my expectations are pretty high. I think maybe people just need to be reminded of a few things.

1. Social Media is called Social Media because part of the idea is to be social. Being social often involves mixing it up with other people. Even though you cannot see them, hear them, or touch them, all of your comments and tweets and likes and dislikes are pinging other human beings. Unless you are pinging bots. They probably don’t care how you treat them, and it’ll only come back to bite us when they take over the world. Be nice.

2. People work really hard, and what you see online is probably just a small portion of all of the work going on. Therefore, tearing someone’s work to shreds and saying “It’s not personal” will not always work, because it will feel pretty personal to that person.

3. Negativity tends to be negative. Even if it has a justifiable point, many people define negativity as being negative. Negative makes me sad. Don’t make me sad.

4. Bashing someone for bashing someone still means you are bashing someone.

5. Fighting publicly on a Social Media platform makes any and all parties involved look bad, no matter what the scenario. Take it to the dark alley of direct messages, email communications, or a Starbucks.

6. Social Media makes your flaws visible, but it also highlights what’s good in your existence. Take a look at the whole picture of what you have going on. Hint: If you have time to be on Social Media, you’re probably doing at least okay in life.

7. People don’t live in your head. All people can go by is the words flashing on their screens. Is your meaning clear without context?

8. Envy, impatience, hyper-snarkiness, and other modes of operation similar to those listed reflect poorly on you.

9. Sharing is a really good thing. Stealing is a really bad thing. Make sure you know the fine line that separates the two.

10. Whenever you feel you are about to get in a spat with someone, it might be a good idea instead to tweet something like, “Help the poor people of Haiti fight cholera,” or, “Can we help the children of Rwanda?” There’s more to life than Blogs and Twitter. Shocking, dreadfully shocking, but true.

Did I miss anything?

9 comments
Nic Wirtz
Nic Wirtz

Nice disguised list post Margie! Hmmm on the one hand I'm probably guilty of all of the above, on the other, I've missed most of the last fortnight so can't take all of the blame.

I'd argue that the problem with social media is the need to feel you're being positive all the time, that's something we're not mentally capable of doing. The problem with spats, arguments, plain snarkiness, whatever, is that one isolated incident in an individual's timeline can be blown out of proportion and manifest itself in ways you'd really never have considered.

We really need to be more accepting with online behaviour. A flame every now and again doesn't mean someone sits online waiting to troll anyone that comes across their path. I say this as someone whose fingers are on occasion quicker than the consequences they can't think of.

The best advice is to either walk away or tweet as you suggested but people don't. If our lives are on show in perpetuity, I dread to think that my kids are growing up in an age where one nanosecond of stupidity leaves a lifetime of consequences.

We do advice, do we really do forgiveness?

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hmm, that's an interesting perspective, Nic. I am not saying that we need to always be "shiny happy sparkly." I'm just saying that if you perpetually write posts or updates about how this stinks and that is crap and this person is mentally slow, it gets tedious after awhile. Nobody likes a Negative Nancy or a Debbie Downer after awhile. There's enough neutral or even good stuff to talk about - why focus on the poopy stuff?

As for forgiveness, that I agree with 100%. If you call someone out and realize you just misunderstood, you should apologize. By the same token, if you are told that something innocent you said rubbed someone the wrong way, you should also take that to heart.

Nic Wirtz
Nic Wirtz

I didn't think for one moment you'd confine yourself to that thought Margie! Stanford made an excellent point about competitors in tonight's #blogchat. We really never talk about competition in social media. Of course not everyone is a competitor and in many niches there's more than enough pie for all bloggers to take their share but industry is naturally competitive.

It grates on me that some people think of social media as one happy orgy of RTing and promoting everyone else's blogs. The 10:1 rule of promotion, I'm sure I could fit in an 80:20 rule reference there too.

Completely agree with you on apologising but the person offended has to say so, just as in real life there's too many people that have to bounce off a third party to notify them that they're offended rather than go to the source. It's got to the stage now where some people get offended when they're challenged, this is not good for the future of critical thought.

Trolling/flaming/being offensive = bad, challenging people to back their ideas up = normal part of discussion.

Ultimately people will use social media as they see fit. We can all justify an action that may go against social media norms. The audience may have the power to set those norms just as the individual does to ignore them.

For example we might rail against people that self promote - Danny Brown's Twat pirates post was a superb summarisation of the "fault". But those people that post links to their posts in tweet chats could turn around and say those posts are promoting a third party. They obviously get self-promotion too but they're aiding someone else.

The crowd may not like this but the individual is using social media for their own purposes. The potential for conflict is never far from the surface because there are no hard and fast social media rules and the ones the majority make, are routinely broken on a consistent basis.

Karen E. Lund
Karen E. Lund

Excellent points all!

In particular, number 5 is important. Online interactions are extremely public, easily copied and repeated (think RT), and very difficult to get rid of once they've been created (think Google cache). Perhaps too many of us get online from home in our jammies--we forget how public it is.

When in doubt remember that there are real, live, breathing human beings somewhere on the other side of that screen. Just like you.

I offer my musings on social media manners from a blog post a while back: https://circleofignorance.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/seven-things-i-shouldnt-need-to-tell-you/

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Thanks, Karen. Good point. Just because no one can see you doesn't mean that people don't see what you do.

hugh.c.mcbride
hugh.c.mcbride

Wonderful list -- the more I read through it, the more I find myself nodding in agreement w/ each point.

I agree w/ Stanford that #10 is particularly worth remembering, & I'd also like to give an extra shout-out to #5. Back when I was a high school teacher, I was always of the opinion that if I ever got into an argument w/ a student in front of the class, I lost (even if I "won" the argument).

Public debate has great value -- public name-calling, not so much.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Thanks, Hugh.

Yeah, I think it's REALLY easy to get involved in spats online. You see a comment in your Twitter stream or on a comment, you decide to respond to it, and all of a sudden you get on the offensive or defensive, say stuff you normally wouldn't say, and you present a side to yourself that might be shocking and disappointing to people who look to you as a mentor or leader or friend. It's a sad truth that even if you are wronged, you can end up looking as bad as the person wronging you.

Stanford @ PushingSocial
Stanford @ PushingSocial

I love #10 - Frankly we are not curing cancer here. We are just passionate people who are trying to get heard. As for me, I know I'm off track if I have the time to be snarky.

Thanks for the reality check.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Yep. I think we all can be guilty of taking this venue and ourselves a bit too seriously. There's plenty of room for everyone. Back away when you feel like you're in a sardine can. Or, you know, watch the news. Whichever works :)