Social media etiquette breaks all the rules we learnt in childhood 126



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It’s every man and woman for themselves in the online space – we aren’t safe from anything any more once we put ourselves out there! About 10 years ago, it was absurd to reveal any personal information about yourself…I remember having a pseudonym and lying about my birthdate, whereas now I practically have it all laid bare for everyone to see. I’m not the only one and it seems more and more common to want to be public about yourself online. Because if you aren’t, what are you hiding? It really goes against everything we had learnt from when we were tiny. Growing up, the only thing we imagined about the 2000s was flying cars and crazy electronics, but who could’ve predicted it would be a world of fuel cars with computers and Facebook? We may have had to adapt but have we broken the basic rules we were taught?

These rules are frequently broken when we use social media:

Don’t talk when someone else is talking

We all know how frustrating it can be to be talked over – we all know someone who does it and it is the height of rudeness! So why do we insist on spamming comment threads and ignoring the other writers, and think it’s fine? It’s just irritating! It goes in the face of what our mums scolded us for all those years ago! Of course, it’s hard not to cut someone off when you’re on a comment thread, but blatantly trying to be heard above others is bad behaviour.

Colour inside the lines

“Colouring inside the lines” is another way of saying don’t go outside the boundaries. Yet social media has become a favourite place to air your dirty laundry or gripes with the world. “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion”, but are they really? Not when it can hurt or defame others! No one likes a mess, so don’t create one…

Don’t cheat off someone else’s work

It’s so tempting to take others’ stuff online and why not? It’s there for the taking right? Well, sort of. You need to check copyright before you take something you didn’t create. Similarly, it seems we’ve thrown this rule and caution into the wind as many download movies, TV shows and music, and sometimes not legally. Again, it is really tempting and you can get away with it 9 times out of 10, but so could you in school when you sneakily glanced at the smart kid’s book!

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything

This one really speaks for itself, doesn’t it? I still live by this rule but I constantly see social media users, young and old, slandering each other on the internet! Bullying is never right, on or offline, but have we resorted back to schoolyard habits?

Don’t talk to strange men

As above, we have opened the floodgates on our private information, letting anyone and everyone see it on our profiles. What happened to the age-old rule of not talking to strange men? A lot of people, particularly of the older generation, have been the victims of scams and other privacy violations because they trusted a stranger over the internet. It does beg the question, if they had reverted back to what they have known their whole lives about talking to strangers, would they have approached those situations differently? It seems some view the internet as more “safe” than real, offline life, but it really isn’t.

So how do we regain control of our information and start to build etiquette for social media? It starts with all of us, really. Commenting and liking and sharing is all part of the social media experiment so it’d be silly to stop completely, especially as technology is only going to become a larger part of our lives. But I think we should definitely start to use those tools we learnt as kids so we can all enjoy it for years to come!

What do you think? Have we disregarded everything we learnt as a child in the place of new, skewed rules? How do you think we can change it? Share your thoughts below!


Emma Greenbury

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