Social Media Etiquette

People have no respect!

Today’s post is inspired by an excellent article I have read regarding communication etiquette on social media websites written by Jan Kearney: Basic Facebook Netiquette.  Jan talks about basic rules of  communication etiquette for businesses on Facebook. I would like to talk about the way we communicate with each other on Facebook and other social media websites, on a personal level. Before I say anything, I would like to mention that I am expressing my thoughts which are based on a long-term experience, and this post is not meant to imply or criticize anyone in particular. 

I have had a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube video for a few years, but have started being active on these sites relatively recently, since I got involved with Internet Marketing and started joining groups and making contact with people in the IM niche. I have been watching how people interact on these sites, and noticed both good and unpleasant sides in the way we communicate with each other.

Everyone likes a smile, a thumbs up, and a cheer. Of course, we all have our lives to live, and problems to deal with, and maybe sometimes do not feel that social. However, being part of a community, I have noticed how many messages are left hanging, with many people seeing them, and leaving them without a reply, or any kind of reaction whatsoever. I admit that I have done it too, although I have never deliberately ignored any messages addressed to me personally.

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I don’t believe that people on the receiving end don’t care about being left hanging in the air.  They do. Nobody enjoys being ignored. It is the same as in real life – you ask a group of people a question, or say something that is on your mind. Imagine that nobody has turned their heads towards you, and you were left in a vacuum, as if you did not even exist? It is the same with social websites.

However, rules are quite different when it comes to emails. Most of us receive heaps of emails on a daily basis. All of a sudden we feel needed, valued and appreciated. The same people who ignore you and your comments on social sites want your attention – when it comes to selling you something, getting a page “like”, an endorsement, a testimonial, or just keeping in touch with you as a potential client, as a PR exercise.

Am I too naive to think that everyone deserves to be treated with respect? That being friendly with others does not imply that you are sucking up to anyone, or want something from them? That there should be no place to snooty attitudes – either offline or online? Or perhaps the way we treat others speaks more about ourselves and our own insecurities? Is it about our perception of people’s usefulness to ourselves? Our own hang-ups? Or perhaps about protecting our own status within a community? My observation about it is that things change, sometimes dramatically, and someone who has been perceived as a nobody can become a very significant somebody any time. Life is full of surprises… Such attitudes do reek though! And I refuse to harden up and play this game of indifferent egotism.

 So, here are some basic rules of communication as I see them: 

  1. Anyone deserves an answer to a question or a comment within a group (unless it is an inappropriate message, in which case it needs to be deleted and reported to an administrator of the group or site where the message was posted).
  2. If someone you know has sent you a polite personal message with a question or comment (not spam) – reply to it, even if to disagree with them. Do not just ignore it and think that it is ok. Because it is not. It is rude and disrespectful, and says more about you than the person who has sent it. If you don’t think that they deserve a reply, then what are they doing on your “friends” list in the first place?
  3. There is a difference between being friendly and sucking up to others. Most people are genuinely friendly, and understand the difference between the two.
  4. Being sensitive and attentive to others is good. We all like to be on the receiving end of kindness.
  5. Using people to your own ends, asking for endorsements, and then forgetting about them until you need them again is not good.

For myself, I am changing the way I take part in communication on FB.  If I see that people in a group are generally friendly and respectful towards each other, I will be more than happy to participate.  Otherwise – life is too short to be asking yourself all those why’s. And I do have a healthy level of self-respect. One request to those who have my name on their mailing list but think that it is not cool to reply to my comments and questions – how about removing it? It will save me a lot of time unsubscribing from your list. You cannot have it both ways guys!

Sorry about the rant – just had to get it off my chest. Maybe I attribute too much importance to social media sites. But you see,  like many, I work from home, and see these sites as a great way to connect with others – as of course they are. However, they can also be a cause of frustration, annoyance and disappointment. Let’s just remember that life is not only about ourselves, our own projects, self-promotion and bank balances – it is also about connecting with others, and giving generously without thinking about getting anything back. That giving does include treating others with kindness and respect. Just the way we want and expect to be treated ourselves.


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