Where Are Your (Social Media) Manners?

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Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. With new technology, however, we are held to a new set of rules ... and manners.

When we are learning to speak, some of the first words we learn are “please,” thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” There is a distinct set of manners to which Americans subscribe and the boundaries are quite clear. Breaking these rules of etiquette has serious consequences ... anything from Mom’s swat on the rear to getting passed over for a promotion at work. Bad manners are never a good thing.

So here we are, with no clear sense of social media manners. Is it OK to announce the birth of a baby via a tweet? Should I mark my Facebook profile with the “in a relationship” tag? Can I post a video of my brother-in-law’s karaoke routine on YouTube? There may not be a clear rule in place for these situations, but there are some simple guidelines that you might want to follow.

First, let’s look at Facebook manners. Remember that anything you post on Facebook will be seen by your entire “friends” list. Many of these “friends” are only there to bolster your numbers. Do you really want to share personal information with everyone on your list? Also, some of the people on your list (like family members) may expect more than a simple Facebook entry announcing good news. Clumping them in with mere acquaintances can lead to hurt feelings. The general rule should be to announce big news on Facebook after you have personally notified your closest friends/family via e-mail or a phone call.

Next, let’s discuss “tweeting.” One major etiquette rule applies here: take it easy. If we have to scroll down 15 consecutive tweets from the same person, it has gone too far. As for length, there is a reason Twitter limits posts to 140 characters ... don’t try to cheat by stringing three posts in a row to get your point across. Keep it short, simple, and infrequent.

YouTube and blogs are a great way to show off family videos, photos and other news. Keep in mind that the majority of these entries will be available throughout the entire Web, making them accessible to millions of potential viewers. A general rule of thumb is to only publish videos and photos that wouldn’t be detrimental to a future political campaign. That also means having respect for the other people in the clip —make sure they are OK with its publication before it’s too late.

These manners are fairly simple, but they will go a long way to your Internet credibility. Having respect for others in the social media world (and the real world) will make everyone’s lives much easier.

While we may or may not have the answer to your specific “etiquette” question, Computer Problem Specialists is always available to help make your system work better. Maybe your Internet isn’t even running fast enough to download YouTube videos ... we can help. Call us at (928) 468-0000 for a free computer checkup.

Be the kind of Internet user that would make your mother proud ... or at least not get you excused from the table early.

Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.

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