In about 20 years we have gone from solely using Yahoo Messenger to bursting at the seams with a gamut of social media platforms. These days, with a retweet, post, or like, you can send a message that thousands, dare I say millions, of people all across the world can view, all at the same time.
The Internet connects us, exposes us to perspectives we would have never seen in our local sphere. Through social marketing – or social media, however you choose to call it – many showcase their gifts to the world and actually earn a living. I could go on and on about it’s benefits.
However, as it creates so many good opportunities , social media can create misery really quickly if abused or disrespected. Hence, the term ‘social media etiquette’ was coined. Yes, it’s actually a thing. I was not the one who created it. The term refers to the manner of conduct that indicate the proper and/or polite way to behave on social media. Whether it’s a personal or business account, temperance is a virtue that should be exercised. My task today is to inform or remind you of a few of these.
1) Use appropriate language: When texting your intimate friends you can converse in whatever language and manner you choose, but don’t take that manner into an online professional conversation or to someone whom you’re not familiar with. This means not using slangs like ‘bcos‘, ‘2moro‘, ‘sup‘ and the like in these types of conversations.
While there are appropriate abbreviations for words such as ‘and'(with &) and similar alike, there is some abbreviating that is just plain inexcusable. We are in the age I’d like to call the smartphone invasion, and one feature which increases the smartphone’s convinience is the allocation of a key to every letter. Some even up the game and provide computer-generated word predictions, basically completing your sentences (how romantic). Dear Ol’ Auto-correct also exists. With all these attributes on our phones, there’s almost no excuse.
2)Avoid posting when angry, upset or drunk: I don’t think I have to explain why this is very crucial. Everything you post on the internet is there forever. Please leave your social media apps when you’re in the heat of emotions, there’s a very high chance you’ll regret that post when your mind is clearer.
3)No sensitive matters please: I know it can be hard, but please resist the urge to wash the dirty linen of yourself or of others in the public. This one hits very close to home. Sometimes people need to remember that it’s more than a period of social media trending, it’s more than clout. People’s lives are involved. Everyone has been through a low point, and nothing’s worse than when you’ve mived on past it but are still being reminded of it because of a video someone shared.
Whether it’s videos exposing a relationship conflict, mental breakdowns or what not, please don’t put such up to make mockery of them. In the past week there was a case involving a quite disturbing footage, and all I could do was wonder why the first thought that crossed the mind of the video maker was to whip out her device to record, and not immediately lend a helping hand.
4)Please do not share unconfirmed news stories or articles: they say that knowledge is power, and I have to agree with this. Knowledge, right and wrong, is capable of much good and much harm respectively. If you have not done your research on a post you want to share, please do so to avoid carrying mistruths to others. Don’t join the chain of rumour spreading.
5)For those on group chats, please act accordingly : a couple of apps have the group texting feature. When you are added to a group chat, confirm what it is for, what is and what isn’t allowed. If a group chat was created strictly for a purpose, it would be respectful to abide by that. Posting material irrelevant to the subject can lead to arguments and it can go downhill from there.
“Why does this even matter?”, you may ask. It’s because conduct matters. These days employers are doing social media checks on prospective employees, and people can lose their job based on online misconduct. You don’t want to lose out of a job because you couldn’t control yourself online. For professional reasons, for personal reasons, for your faith, it matters for many reasons. There are other points I didn’t mention, you can google ‘social media etiquette’ and you’ll see quite a few, pertaining to business and personal purposes.
Finally, this is not an etiquette per say, but just my advice. When at an event, try to be present. Not online presence, but real life physical presence; meeting people, enjoying the event. It can be easy to get sucked in taking pictures and posting on social media, and I’ve been guilty of this a couple of times. Sometimes I leave my phone behind in my room when out with friends, just to constantly remind myself that a world exists beyond my phone. When next you’re at a gathering, put your phone for a bit, and enjoy the event, meet people, and actually have a good time.
That’s it for the week folks! Thank you for reading.
For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
Galatians 6:5 NLT