Etiquette in the Age of Social Media

I am being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of social media. Sure, I am aware of the benefits; I’m just not convinced that most individuals have the self control and discipline to use them in a professional and responsible way.

I do not currently have a Facebook page, but I realize that it is only a matter of time before the company will have one. Monitoring what goes on with my middle school children, however, can be a fulltime job because these social networking sites can be a huge breeding ground for rumor mills. I don’t believe it is healthy or polite for information (many times, inaccurate information), to be circulated so rapidly. With that said, if social networking is working for you, it is crucial to follow some strict guidelines, regardless of what anyone else is out there doing.

If you are seeking employment, working as a business professional or are concerned with maintaining a reputation, it is especially important to remember the following tips:

• Only include information or photos that you would be comfortable publishing in your local newspaper or having featured in the local news.
• Refrain from posting detailed descriptions about your life, your family, etc. Reading the “household update” each year in your friends’ and relatives’ holiday card is one thing, but who wants all that information on a regular basis? No one’s life is that interesting.
• Think twice before you add something to your site or to anyone else’s.
You have a responsibility to everyone to exercise good judgment when commenting on other peoples’ sites.
• Use correct English and polite wording.
• If you are even a tiny bit apprehensive about posting something, don’t do it. When it comes to social networking, always lean on the side of caution, because once it is out there, you’ve lost your power.

The bottom line for etiquette in the age of social media? Don’t get hooked. You cannot gauge your social success on the 10,000 “friends” in your network…because nothing can take the place of good old-fashioned face-to-face time. This is yet another area where being mindful of your manners really counts.

By April Fawcett Nagel

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