Facebook has become my preferred method of communication with just about everyone I know. I can catch up with friends (some of whom I haven’t seen in years) without even having to leave my home. Facebook has a semi-personal feel, being able to comment on pictures, conversations and status updates. It is easy to get caught up in a thread with a number of other people, either discussing an issue or jumping on a bandwagon.
As with any community of people, I have to remember to be careful what I am writing and posting on the web. While the rumor mill works just as effectively by word of mouth, with online communications I never know whom could be reading my posts.
For example, I have a friend whom, whenever I see her, asks me about something on Facebook. But she never actually comments on anything. She is what I would refer to as a Facebook lurker: someone who reads but does not always participate.
In contrast to the lurker, there are people who comment on EVERYTHING – certain to be involved in whatever is “going on” . No matter which extreme you may be, or anything in between, it is important to remember when you’re posting, you never know whom is reading. Drama can be created from the slightest misunderstanding or over-share. Involve yourself in it too often and you may even find it spilling over into your life offline.
Certain topics are very touchy and must be handled with great care. In fact, I have forbidden myself from posting anything online about my work, my child’s school or my relationship with my husband. These are three very important offline relationships I have to nurture every day. And once my children get to the Facebook profile age (oh, perhaps another article), they will be off limits as a subject of my posts as well. I would never want to put my loyalty to any of these people in jeopardy due to something I wrote or participated in on Facebook.
It is interesting how technology has created a new dynamic in so many new arenas. We are dealing with new issues on a daily basis and creating new etiquette’s for them as well. While we are all enjoying the benefits of social networks, I believe it is important to remain patient with each other as we learn the ins and outs of behavior online.
Do you have any online etiquette’s to share that may save someone an embarrassing moment, or worse?