Thursday, January 10, 2013

Simple Rules



  I think I probably annoyed my Facebook friends today.  But in my defense, it’s because a lot of them have been annoying me lately.  It’s bad enough that when it comes to most social issues (you know, of the type you find frequently on social media) I am in the small minority of opinion.  This means that I am frequently annoyed by the things my friends post.  It also often leaves me wondering just how it is we came to be friends in the first place.  Of course, many of them aren’t really honest-to-goodness friends; they’re co-workers, or people I’ve met somewhere along the way, or even people I’ve never even met but have become friendly with in the cyber world.  And I don’t mean that in sort of demeaning way; some of my best friendships have originated in the cyber world; my very best friendship began as a co-worker relationship.  Friends can be found anywhere, and I think life is better with lots of them, even if many of them are sort-of friends.  But, that’s how it is that my newsfeed ends up cluttered with a lot of status updates that annoy me.

So, today, I addressed a couple of them.  To start, I have recently been bothered by a rash of people posting a standardized message on how to change some particular settings to prevent strangers from seeing restricted online activity.  Of course, everyone who posts this is so sincere and well-meaning, even offering to make the same changes for any of their friends with similar concerns.  Never mind that the instructions don’t accomplish the stated goal, much less that they actually have the power to solve most of their privacy concerns themselves, without such a post, if only they would take the time to give it a little thought.  I posted a pretty long status update about that when I saw one too many friends posting the dreaded message. 

Then, later on, I posted my “rules” for deciding whether or not I would “like”, “share”, or “copy/paste” a particular status update.  (Spoiler alert:  I don’t do it much.)  I’ll share them with you here:

1. I must agree with your message. Otherwise, no amount of guilt or shame will cause me to pass it on.
2. If it's mean spirited, closed-minded, or hateful, don't expect me to share, even if it's supposed to be funny. (See rule 1.)
3. Proper spelling/grammar is a must. I might forgive the occasional typo or missing comma, but if you (or whoever you are quoting) has misused your/you're, they're/their/there, too/two/to, or its/it's, I likely won't be sharing it.
4. If it's essentially the modern version of a chain-letter--whether promising good for sharing or threatening ill for ignoring--I'm going to have to take my chances on the ill.
5. About rule 1 and "guilt or shame": Messages that contain words like "95% won't repost", "I'm counting on true friends to do this", or--my personal favorite-- "like if you love Jesus, keep scrolling if you don't", all of these messages will be summarily ignored. It's not that I'm heartless, or a heathen, it's that I have an aversion to manipulation in all its forms.

And, I later amended to add a final thought, that you must check your facts before posting amazing stories to share with the world; Google is your friend.

I really wasn’t trying to be mean, or pompous, though I think it may have come across that way; I was just venting a little bit—hoping that maybe at least one or two of the “guilty” ones would recognize the error of their ways.

Then it occurred to me that I feel similarly about the blogosphere, and I look for many of the same things:  fair-mindedness, interesting topics free of bigger-than-life promises or non-stop sales pitches, posts that leave readers with a positive feeling rather than making them feel bad about themselves, and authors who have a good grasp of the fundamentals of the English language.  And just as I follow my own rules on Facebook, I also try to follow them here.  We’re all members of this gigantic, world-wide society, and I just hope we all do our own little parts to make it a better place.

What rules do you have for your social media?