October 9, 2013 - Miscellaneous

Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, Facebook, StumbleUpon and Digg are just a few of the social media avenues I use on a daily basis to connect with my readers. There’s no doubt about it—social outreach has become part of our lives—a major part.

Social Networking Stick Men

But with the exponential growth in the ability to communicate, there comes new responsibilities to consider.

The idea of connecting with friends sounds exciting. It is finally possible to reach out to colleagues, friends, co-workers and classmates any time of the day or night. We were able to find those with whom we had lost contact, or even find an old high school sweetheart.

But with that, many are willing to type statements and criticisms onto a blog, timeline or news feed that they would never say in person. They feel isolated from their own comments, as if someone else made them.

The absence of accountability is not without consequence, however. We may think we aren’t hurting anyone if we type our comments because we don’t see the pain on the faces of those we offend.

As a result, a phenomenon has developed that I will refer to as virtual amnesty, believing that social graces are no longer necessary because we aren’t real and whatever we say bears no consequence. This, of course, is not true.

Since social networking is here to stay, it is imperative that we develop the skills to communicate appropriately.

I have adopted some of the rules of etiquette espoused by others more intelligent than I that you may find helpful.

  • Don’t be too quick to respond to negative feedback.
    • If you blog, tweet, or comment on Facebook, someone out there will not like what you say. Their response may be snarky or offensive, and even without much forethought. The best way for you to handle this may be to wait before responding. For some, the cool down period may be an hour, for others, a week might be more appropriate. For me, twenty-four hours works well. My answer is more thoughtful and without the cutting edge I want to deliver in the heat of the moment. Try this:
      • Write out immediately what you want to say, but don’t send or post it. Tomorrow read it, and see if you feel the same way or if you make changes. If you still like it, give it one more day and read it again.
  • Don’t take everything to heart at face value.
    • If you are offended by something a friend posted that doesn’t sound like them, perhaps they didn’t mean it the way it came across. Ask them about it, either on the same forum, or another avenue of communication that is less public like a call or text. This alone has save me some serious ill feelings toward others. I have also been on the other side of that fence and have been called out by someone I offended. Upon reading how what I had written came across, I was appalled. It was not what I meant.
    • If I discover I have offended someone else, my response is usually to make my clarification on a public forum. I feel that if my offensive statement (involuntary as it may have been) was public, my apology should also be public. Your call.

When you’re writing or responding, don’t forget that your audience may be quite large. Taking that into consideration can prevent hurt feelings or damaging relationships.