What do you do when social media stops being social?
There’s no question that social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have exploded in recent years as the No. 1 way of communicating. After all, no one is making a movie about the meteoric rise of the inventor of the telephone. And for some, myself included, amassing contacts is a fun way to while away a few minutes while earning bragging rights.
But with great power comes great responsibility, and the question arises, what is the etiquette for rejecting or even un-friending someone who has done you wrong.
That the first case even arises is something of a surprise. Even for a friend-whore like me, there are some lines I won’t cross, and one of those is accepting a request to link up with someone who has lied to me, cheated me, stabbed me in the back or done any other country music reference that comes to mind to me. But, when it comes to un-friending someone, is it wrong to not take that step in order to keep tabs on the person, essentially an electronic version of the adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”, or is it better to just make a clean break?
While there are plenty of sets of rules out there about how to behave online and in forums, guidelines specific to social networking are scarce. One site, SmallBusinessNotes, has compiled a list of eight of them that can be applied to both business and personal use:
- Be truthful in the information you provide about yourself (yes, that includes photos)
- Be selective about the information you share. If you’re online for business, don’t feel like you have to answer a personal question being asked by the network site.
- Provide information about why you want to be a friend or connection when you request the link. After all, just because you remember someone doesn’t mean they’ll remember you. Besides, it’s always better to find out that bikini model Bambi is married before you needlessly start stalking her.
- Choose your friends and connections carefully. This rule applies to the real world, too: you’re judged by those with whom you surround yourself.
- Type in normal upper and lower case with correct spelling and grammar, and limit your use of emoticons and acronyms. Speaking from a recipient’s point of view, your online tirade comes across as amusing rather than angry when you spell “hating” as “hateing”, “only” as “onbly” and forget to use any periods.
- Refrain from mixing personal and business use, just as letting customers and other associates know personal details of your life. One suggestion is to keep Facebook for personal use and LinkedIn for business, or if you’re in the public eye, create a Facebook fan page. Granted, I tried that once and only managed to get one fan. Thanks go out to my wife for that.
- Post positive comments, and if that’s hard, then try to keep your comments in neutral terms with an explanation of your concerns.
- Send a limited number of messages to your friends or connections. Put yourself in their shoes and decide if you’d really want or need to know what you’re about to send out.