I learned a while back that besides the obvious value of finding and keeping in touch with friends and family on sites like Facebook and Twitter(as well as mass-marketing events and other promotional-type activities), there is also quite a bit of potential for problems with those same people you were just sharing photos with.
No matter what your platform of choice is (and there are many), it can get you in a lot of trouble, even if you had the noblest of intentions. This is for many different reasons, and in the interest of not crashing the WordPress server with examples, I will only enumerate a few within the confines of this particular post.
Like text messaging, you can’t grasp the intended tone as well as the other nuances of a conversation when you’re reading a status update, tweet, or whatever other services call it.
Also, because even though the people reading the things a person says are supposedly “friends,” they often don’t really know each other, or at least not well. You may think their cat memes are hilarious, but they may privately not hold your fondness for sharing Taylor Swift videos in similarly high regard. In short, they aren’t really your friends in many cases.
2. Don’t Be a Jerk
So while whatever point you’re trying to get across may be true and valid, you never know who you’re going to offend by making it. And there are clearly also some people who sometimes use social networking to say things they would never say in person.
Because of this, there are times when something that starts with a perfectly innocuous question often ends in ugliness, hurt feelings, and possibly even far reaching consequences.
Mainly, this is because you never know what’s going on (or has gone on) in a person’s life when they read your stuff.
Consequently, you also never know when they’re going to flip out on you and start puking ugliness or saying things they won’t be able to get back.
3. Know your audience
The other thing to consider is a person needs to weigh the material they’re going to share and decide if a huge and impersonal platform is appropriate. Remember, anyone and everyone has the ability to read your stuff.
If you don’t want your mom seeing your vacation shenanigans, don’t post them.
If you don’t want your boss to read your whiny little missives about how mean he is, don’t post them.
If you don’t want people from church to see you doing body shots, that might be one to send your frat buddies via email or private message.
Speaking of church, if you don’t want to look like a bad example, or hypocrite, or charlatan of some sort, keep that stuff to yourself online! Gosh! There is absolutely no need to post screen caps, memes, or movie clips that require a valid ID to view.
4. Solving Problems before they happen:
I would also offer this: if one has a problem with something said, a simple email or private message can go a long way toward clearing things up. It can also avoid dozens of people feeling the need to attack or defend a person or point.
It’s possible to confront someone in an appropriate manner and resolve a situation without hurting feelings or having a person blow a gasket, which is what happened to me a while back. Yes, I often have to learn things the hard way.
I’d also say that if you’re a person with thin skin and a hair trigger, then social networking is probably not for you. But if you do choose to use it, stay away from contentious topics.
5. It’s Only a Joke:
Maybe that’s how you mean it, but don’t expect everyone to get your sense of humor. Don’t expect everyone to react like you do, or share that same level of verbal sophistication you think you have. Here’s a tip: if you think you’re hilarious and clever and full of wisdom, and just have to share your cleverness with the world, try to contain yourself.
Not everyone thinks cats barfing to techno is funny, or likes watching frat boys light gas or drink tequila from a morbidly obese navel.
Use your brain, man.
6. Like It Or Not, You ARE An Example
Look, I know everyone is different. Everyone likes different things, and may laugh hysterically at something that makes you see red. You may think that blog is chock full of profound truth, or that that live clip of dudes eating cockroaches or women giving birth in wading pools is really cool and interesting. Just don’t expect me to. The thing is, you never know who will see your posts.
You never know how they will react to them.
Don’t cause harm to a friendship, or relationship, or cause someone to stumble or turn away from God by being an idiot online.
It’s not worth it.
For my part, because I have a problem with not saying what I really feel, or not calling BS BS, I will probably hereafter restrict my comments to things like “lol,” and only share things like