Social Media Manners

Social Media Manners

Mary M. Mitchell’s article “Friending the boss on Facebook: Fun of foolish?” discusses what we look like online, and how to give off a good impression.  First impressions are very important online and offline.  It is no longer enough to be a “people person” offline; we must be able to correspond well with others through “mediated communication.”  Judith Donath describes “mediated communication in her article “Sociable Media” as “any communication in which the participants communicate via some sort of medium.”  When we begin to use mediated communication, as opposed to face-to-face, we may act differently.  The way we speak does not always come across the same as when we type.

Mitchell offers us a “guide on social media manners” so that we may find a way to use social media sites without offending anyone, but still representing ourselves truthfully.  She offers her opinions on friending your boss, staying out of a controversial situation, oversharing, and unwanted comments.

Friending your boss:  Your best bet is to just not do it.  You never know if friending your boss would be seen as crossing the line between business and personal.  If you do decide to click the “add” button, be careful what you post!


Post without much thought, and you’re toast.


I agree with Mitchell that the only social media site that it is completely acceptable to friend coworkers as well as your boss is LinkedIn.  This site is built to network!  LinkedIn is a social media site whose social ties are all about business.  LinkedIn is full of social capital.  It is an example of resources embedded in social relationships.



(Source: Myrland Marketing)

In order to stay out of controversial discussions, we must be careful with what we post.  Like Mitchell, Alice Marwick and Danah Boyd talk about being considerate of who your audience.  In their article “I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience,” they discuss the concepts of context collapse and the imagined audience.  We tweet and post based on our imagined audience.  Our imagined audience is usually our “ideal reader,” a mirror image of the person posting.  Context collapse is when the consumption setting is unknown to the producer and the consumers are unknown too.  Since we do not know who is reading our posts and in what context it is being consumed, be should post to the “lowest common denominator,” meaning that the post will have the broadest appeal.  Mitchell mentions that we should avoid two major topics: politics and religion.  I completely agree, but I think that money should be added to this list.  She goes on to say that it is ok to post about these subjects if you put a lot of into your post, but I completely disagree.  Unless you are looking to start an online fight, or get unfriended, I would steer clear of these topics!


What you write will be seen and will be criticized (for your benefit or your dismay).


In order to not upset anyone we need self-censorship.  We need to check ourselves before we post.  Is this really something I want the world to see?  Is this an argument I want to start? Another option is vagueness, but then again, who would want to read those posts…  Some people go as far as to create multiple accounts or use pseudonyms.  One of the best options that Marwick and Boyd describe is to tweet to your nightmare reader!  A nightmare reader is usually someone who you know should not see what you are posting, or will absolutely disagree.  Usually these readers are your parents, bosses, or teachers.



(Source: Ask Holly How)


Oversharing is another big issue when it comes to our self-presentation online.  Mitchell tells us to “be conservative and always empathize.”  It’s odd how much we are willing to share online, but offline we seem to keep to ourselves.  This goes back to our imagined audience and our nightmare readers.  You may feel the need to share something very private, but maybe you should think again.  Oversharing can lead to an uncomfortable discussion, but it can also lead to rude comments from others.  Mitchell’s article tells us to walk away from the computer and try to stay calm.  Odds are most people will not do this.  We need to realize that the worst thing we can do is respond emotionally.

Social media manners are important to have because information travels far, and fast!  You never know who is reading your posts, even if you believe that your profile is private.  We should be able to keep strong social ties online while still showing who we are.


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