Social Media Etiquette

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We all observe it, and involve ourselves in it daily – the cell phone, emails, texts and all that goes with them. Technology is great and useful, but it certainly can be annoying and unproductive if we aren’t careful.

Let’s face it, we are all locked into social media on some level. Whether you only use email, and your phone to simply talk on (Wow, what an idea!), or you are totally immersed in the social networking scene, gathering all the mediums that you can; this technology continues to drive our lives. It is fascinating and self-absorbing, to say the least. It is a detriment to our civil society to express the extreme. I believe we need a balance and to get back to some good, old fashioned common sense and respect.

 soc media5Common sense and respect are good things, but seem to be slipping away from our everyday lives. Common sense is not very common and respect of others is sacrificed on the altar of selfishness.

Examples of the disregard of these virtues are everywhere. Just sit down at a restaurant and observe. A significant percentage of the people there will have a handheld device and will be using it. Some will be texting to the person across the table. Many eyes will be glued to their device, rarely looking up and almost never engaging the other person with any substantial conversation.

Ah, there’s an idea – “Conversation.” Texting or emailing do not necessarily represent “conversation.” These are ways to communicate, but I fail to see that social media is a real conversation outlet. True conversation involves looking at a person’s face, into the eyes and noticing tone inflection and body language as ideas are politely exchanged.

Wow, there’s another one – “Politely.” As our culture finds itself demanding more of us at a faster pace, the politeness and patience of people is getting frayed. Nerves are constantly on edge and we are moving on to the next situation.

 soc media7Studies have indicated that at least one third of all adults use their cell phones during dinner and nine in ten people feel that technology is taking a priority in the lives of their loved ones, at the neglect of them personally and their children.

In a recent article, Kirby Anderson of Point of View says, “Some restaurants are also starting to complain. One restaurant explained that people on smartphones was hurting their business and was becoming an inconvenience to their servers. When they compared surveillance tapes from ten years ago to current ones, they found the patrons were taking longer to finish their meals. They were taking pictures of their meals, taking selfies and spending long periods of time on their smartphones.”

I see our lives as being dominated by social media while the very important aspects of life, relationship and meaningful conversation are taking a backseat. Our younger generation can program a universal remote, setup email accounts, and play games in the cloud, but are losing the understanding of how important serious interaction with others really is.

So, what if we put some thought to common sense ground rules that we all can all comply with and encourage others with? Social Media Etiquette is stated in many forms on the Internet. Check it out on a search engine – social media marketing suggestions, do’s and don’ts to start the school year with social media, when and how to “friend” and “unfriend”, etc. Some good, some…not so useful.

 soc media3I suggest that we all realize that social media is here to stay. The Internet has opened doors of learning and connecting quickly with folks that are on the run and don’t have time to talk.

But let’s get back to that common sense thing we spoke of earlier:

. First, do we really think the world revolves around us? It doesn’t and others are just as important as we are as individuals. When in the presence of someone else, unless there is a very good reason to be on your phone…don’t. Take an inventory of who this person is that you are with and why they are there with you. Maybe they need and want to talk with real, audible, verbal words. (Take my breath away!)

. Second, texting doesn’t necessarily need to be replied to immediately. In public gatherings such as movies, worship services or PTA meetings…let it go. You can answer later.

. Third, you do not need to answer every call live. If you are in a meeting, you have voice mail. Let it record the message – that’s what it is for. I have been frustrated while on sale calls in that my customer could not go five minutes without answering his phone. Then, after he finished, we would have to re-focus and begin again.

. Fourth, we must carry on a safe life as we grow deeper into these technological times. Driving and other activities do not mix with social media outlets. Be smart and stay healthy for your loved ones. They will appreciate it. And encourage your friends to do the same.

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We could go on, but I know we all get my drift. Thinking of others, being safe, using good communication skills and using, not abusing, technology will make our lives and the lives around us more safe, important and useful.