Bad manners seem to be running rampant on Facebook and social media lately. From complaining about friends and family in status updates to rude comments to posting pictures without permission, a lack of tactfulness seems to be more of the rule than the exception.
Since becoming a mom, I have realized I need to model the behavior I want my girls to have one day. My hope is my daughters will behave like ladies no matter where they are, be it in public or online, because having good manners will never go out of style.
This story about a mom whose photo was unknowingly taken while she was discreetly nursing her 6-month-old baby at a restaurant last week (http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/breastfeeeding-in-public-photo-06162014-privacy-rights-laws/?scid=fb_wallPost) is a great example of the wild situations which bad behavior on social media can create. The mom’s photo was posted on Facebook without her permission, and she unwillingly became the center of a huge firestorm around breastfeeding in public. If the photo taker had a few manners and a little sympathy, this unfortunate situation could have been prevented.
After finding some inspiration from this great article about Facebook etiquette (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-m-brown/facebook-etiquette_b_5268789.html), here are my tips for acting classy online.
Think Before You Type: Whether it be a ranting status update or an angry comment, give yourself some time to cool off before you type something you’ll regret. Everything on Facebook is stored in their servers indefinitely, so make sure your words don’t come back to haunt you one day. Have a trusted friend or a spouse weigh in before you reply to help you gain some perspective.
Be Polite: If you are tempted to type something which you wouldn’t say to someone in person, this is a great sign that you shouldn’t put the nasty words on social media. It is incredibly rude to hide behind a computer screen or an iPhone and say something ugly to someone which you would never say to his or her face. Your friends and family are reading your typed words, and just because they aren’t spoken doesn’t make them any less hurtful, offensive or real.
Ask First: Before you tag an unflattering picture of your junior high bestie, a cute photo of a friend’s new baby or a snapshot from a wild party, get permission. Someone may not want the picture broadcast to their entire friends list or their employer, especially if it shows them in an unprofessional setting. Sometimes new parents want to be the first ones to share a picture of their baby or would rather you not post a picture of their child, so always ask permission to be on the safe side.
Skip the Drama: If you have a big blow out with a close friend, resist the urge to blast them on social media. Even a vague status update such as, “I really can’t believe some people,” can lead friends and family to question what happened and may lead the involved parties feeling betrayed. Everyone has fights and arguments, but it will be much harder to make amends if you publicly shared your unhappiness. The same goes for your spouse. Keep your arguments and dirty laundry private.
You Can’t Reason with Crazy: One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is to leave “crazy” alone. If someone is passionately responding to something which you’ve shared or typed, it’s ok to let it be. Your friends will see the situation for what it is without you getting into a back and forth reply situation which could likely have no ending. There are people in this world who insist on having the last word no matter how hard you try to remedy the situation or find a solution, and it’s not worth your energy to continue to argue with them. Choose the high road, and accept that you cannot reason with crazy.
When in Doubt, Think About Your Kids: A great filter to use in social media is to think about how you would want your child to respond in the same situation. If your daughter was in your shoes and had a tacky comment written on her status update, how would you suggest she handle it? In all actuality, we are setting an example of manners and appropriate online behavior for our children, so it’s a great way to teach or prepare to teach our kids.
Sympathize: Remember you are not alone in the Facebook world by a long shot, and that anonymous photo which you snap to express your disgust or shock (like the one of the mom breast feeding) are not as anonymous as you might think. The same goes for the authors of an article or blog post which you simply hate. Everyone is someone’s child, and all of your interactions on social media need to keep this in mind.
Keep it PG: This may make me sound old-fashioned, but I’d rather not see my newsfeed filled with obscene language and dirty jokes. If you must share something inappropriate, use messenger, email or the “share only with” setting. This also protects you in the long run with potential employers and others who you will interact with in a professional setting.
Have Grace: We are all going to make social media blunders, and having grace and forgiveness with others is the only way to expect them to have grace and forgiveness towards us one day. We are learning, human and imperfect, and we live in an imperfect world. Social media is simply a reflection of that.
While I’m not sure we can make much of a difference in the overall climate on social media, I know we can each exercise control over our personal actions online. And there is always the “unfollow” button for those repeat offenders who fill up our newsfeeds. Rise above, friends, and stay classy!
Greeley moms, what other social media manners do you want to teach your kids?