One of the things I love about social media is that I can anonymously stalk old friends. I have had one too many lengthy conversations with my friends about something an old friend or acquaintance had posted. Whether we like it or not, part of social media is that, it gives us something to gossip about and roll our eyes at (and do not try to tell me that you do not do it too). It is the same reason people watch Keeping up with the Kardashians and other mindless reality shows, we love to talk about other people. It gives us the perfect opportunity to feel better about ourselves by laughing at others, which is also what I hate about social media. Now, we could go into all the things that makes us as human beings flawed and why we feel the need to talk about people. Or we could talk about proper behavior on social media that maybe, just maybe, will give other people fewer opportunities to laugh at our posts.
There have been written numerous articles, blogs, tweets etc. about social media etiquette, a simple Google search gave me an overwhelming 23,100,000 results of anything from companies teaching social media etiquette to business strategies and lifestyle blogs. They range from advice on how to treat other people online, which should be a no-brainer in the sense that you should treat people online the same way as you would if they were standing in front of you, to tips on what to consider before posing a status update.
Forbes propose 12 questions that you should ask yourself before posting:
- Should I target a specific audience with this message?
- Will anyone actually care about this content besides me?
- Will I offend anyone with this content? If so, who? Does it matter?
- Is it appropriate for a social portal or should it be communicated another way?
- How many times have I already posted something today?
- Did I spell check?
- Will I be okay with absolutely anyone seeing this?
- Is this post too vague? Will everyone understand what I’m saying?
- Am I using this as an emotional dumping ground? If so, why? Is there a different outlet better for these purposes?
- Am I using too many abbreviations in this post and starting to sound like a teenager?
- Is this reactive communication or is it well thought-out?
- Is this really something I want to share, or is it just me venting?
I have picked out a few posts from some of my friends on Facebook, who probably should have read this list before posting (sorry guys).
The first person is someone I went to middle school with. Her life on Facebook consists only of her two daughters, she seems happy, good for her, more power to her, but we all know how annoying those constant baby updates are. I have not talked to her in years, but I often find myself wondering about her Facebook updates. 90% of her posts go something like this:
”First work, then pick up kids, then I cleaned the house, went to the doctor with Daughter X, who unfortunately needs a bigger dose of her asthma meds, then I cooked dinner, sent the husband to a rum tasting, read with the girls, tucked them in, did laundry, and now I am enjoying a cup of tea. The girls’ lunch boxes will have to wait till tomorrow morning”
To me this seems like any other day in a family with two young children. While she is clearly not offending anyone, the content is not particularly interesting either. I would actually go as far as saying that no one cares.
Another friend posts daily check-ins at the local fitness center such as “today is leg day”, “late workout – love it” or “currently doing cardio”. Well good for you! You should work out every day, but why do I need to know about it? Unless you are doing something truly spectacular such as run a marathon or complete an ironman, why feel the need to tell the world about it?
To me, social media etiquette is more than being kind and respectful towards other people online, it is also about not spamming your friends with boring irrelevant posts.
What are your thoughts?