Friday, 15 June 2012

Keeping it virtually nice

"It's better to give than to receive."
"You only get out of it what you put into it."
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

We've all heard these hackneyed phrases, usually uttered by sainted aunts or well-meaning parents, trying to teach us something about life.

With a lot of social interaction now occurring online I thought it pertinent to observe that these sorts of sentiments apply equally well to social media.

For example, if you expect to get anything out of Facebook you've got to participate.  It's easy to watch the news feed slide by, but if you don't comment, like, or contribute, you're not going to get anything back.  I have a friend on Facebook who only posts when he has something he wants people to pay attention to.  Even then, it's usually a bit vague.  Unsurprisingly few people respond, and I can't help feeling like he's wasting his time logging into Facebook if that's what he's going to do.

People who use social media half-heartedly tend to get blocked.  They're a bit like the socially inept person at the party.  After a few parties where people avoid them, they lose interest in the group and become socially isolated.  Some people make this work, but a lot get bitter about it.  Well, I'm here to say that, like it or not, there are some things going on in the real world now that you won't know about if you're not paying attention to your computer, so work on those online social skills, people!

I've been mucking around with Pinterest lately, as well.  Yes, I know the stats about 82% of users being women, and about how it is intensely piratical with regard to image rights.  It is, nevertheless, a very effective place to find and gather images of stuff you like, linked to the sources to find out more about them.  And, like other social media, the more you participate (instead of being a passive observer), the more your stuff gets noticed and followed, thereby opening up avenues to further explore common points of interest.  Me, I'm just trying to promote this blog on Pinterest.  I don't think that's working quite so well, but I do find a lot of funny stuff there.  (Also, way too many wedding ideas, fingernail designs and tips for perfect abs in two weeks.)

Look, I know there are people out there who eschew social media, claiming some sort of puritanical high ground in their dedication to restricting their social life to the real world.  Bully for them.  But for families or groups of friends who find themselves geographically separated, social media is an amazing tool for staying in touch and enhancing the way we share our lives.

That's why I think it's worthwhile bringing some of the old social graces into the new social arenas.  Those phrases didn't originate as demotivational poster captions.  They come from a time when a faux pas meant social death.

Which reminds me of another phrase: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".  This works most of the time, unless you can make a fart joke out of something somebody posted.  In which case, go ahead.

So, am I right, or is uncivilised behaviour acceptable on social media platforms?


  1. So many of my posts on Facebook are for you Glenn!

  2. Including the "Game of Thrones rude bits" clip? Nice!

  3. As is the case with so many of your articles - Well said. *Polite Applause*
    Of course uncivilized behavior (sorry about the American spelling this blog forced it upon me) is supported and even encouraged on many social media platforms, especially forums, since you can make up any identity at almost any time, post your unpleasant views and never use the alias again.

    1. Quite - the rude will always find a way to be rude, but it takes a particular kind of cowardice to treat an unlocked door as a licence to offend.


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