The other day, I was introduced to the term “social media etiquette” when Facebook founder Mark Z’s sister, Randi Zuckerburg, complained about having her privacy violated by someone on the site.
Does internet etiquette really exist?
It’s undeniable that we’ve entered into an era of over share. The advent of social media has guaranteed that one can divulge previously taboo content, controversial topics, and completely mundane and unimportant life happenings in 20 different ways: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr––the sky’s the limit.
Feeling fired up about your political party or any other topic that you wouldn’t otherwise discuss in person among friends in order to maintain those friendships?
Dancing in your underwear because you’re home alone?
Your kid make their first poop in the potty?
POST IT. And make sure to include a picture.
(And yes. These are all things that I have had pop up on various newsfeeds.)
I wonder if people stop and think about how their content changes people’s perception of them. I know I certainly do. I’ve noticed there are several different personalities that one can come across on the interwebs. Here are a few:
- The Rager: in person, this friend may be quiet, meek, or mild. On the internet, they’re a great big ball of rage and complaints. You can’t help but wonder what the heck is truly bothering them that they have to bring down everyone reading their status. “My boss spilled his potato soup in the microwave AGAIN. Ugh, I want to quit my job and punch all of these people in the face!”
- The Grammar-Phobe: I’m not talking about the occasional “no” for “know” or missed punctuation. You wonder how this friend passed elementary school with statuses riddled with comma splices and spelling mistakes that not even 2nd grade students have the gall to make. Not even the Rosetta Stone can help you decipher the code they’re writing in (because it’s certainly not English). “Wher do yo thnik we are gunna go shoping today..who nos”. Why has autocorrect failed them so horribly?
- The Braggart: oftentimes nauseating with the amount of optimism and “glass half full” attitude, it seems like these people have the answers to everything and never experience the normal lows of life. “It’s 200 degrees outside but my popsicle isn’t melting!” “I tripped walking down the street and realized I had just fallen on top of a briefcase full of cash!” Are they really being honest with their friends, here?
Full disclosure when it comes to the braggart: I’m guilty as charged. Very rarely will I post something negative or talk about that awful-thing-that-changed-my-life on social media. The reasons are two-fold:
- There’s an unimaginable amount of schadenfreude out there. People love a train wreck and can’t seem to look away when someone is self-destructing. Someone’s relationship status changes on Facebook? Here comes the slew of people prying into their dating life. Complaining openly about your job? People will start a count-down until you get canned for that bad attitude.
- People are already bogged down in their own problems. Who am I to chuck my woes on top of their pile? I hate walking away from Twitter or Facebook feeling heavier than when I came because there is so much anger and sadness ticking across my pages.
Ultimately, my feelings on the existence of “social media etiquette” is that it doesn’t. There is no governing body of the internet that says what’s proper for operating on social media–at least not one that truly enforces it. In the end, though, I think it’s the individual user’s prerogative. We all have to use our own moral compass to decide what we’ll include in our own definitions of “internet etiquette”.
So go ahead and post those filtered pictures of your vegan, gluten-free, quinoa and basil soup.
Just don’t try to get me to eat it.
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