Social Media Rules (or the lack of it)

These days, it’s all about Social Media.

Social Media has become something that doesn’t stay in the computer screen. It follows us everywhere and sometimes, it even influences many of our actions. Our own opinions can even be molded by Social Media. For me, it’s something that is something that is both scary and fascinating.

There is really no doubt about it; we have made Social Media a part of our realities. We have certainly made it into a community, and like all realities and communities, we have somehow created rules for them.

However; there is no Social Media Rulebook. There isn’t even a guidebook. Our rules are unwritten, but agreed upon by all. There are certain things that you just cannot do, limits that you cannot cross.

Now for me, Social Media is relatively new. As such, its rules are not a complete science. They are blurry at best, and they can sometimes confuse you when you think about them too much.

One thing about them does strike me as being ironic. Social Media strive to be the standard-bearer of a little something we call, the Freedom of Expression (FOE). Ideally, you can say anything, write anything, and people are not supposed to bother you about it. So no matter how sick, maniacal or rude you are, you can just plead the FOE, and get away with it. 

Does it work?

It sometimes works, but there are also other times when it doesn’t.  For example;

The problem is, the parameters of FOE are different from one person to another. Again, the rules are not written down, and no one has really talked or agreed upon it. The girl here (let us call her Ginny) may have a different understanding of FOE than the guy (let us call him Big Boss Man). Big Boss Man may have a narrower view of FOE, thus; there is no shared meaning. Animosity and chaos will rule due to meanings that do not connect.

Of course, there is the whole professionalism issue for Ginny, but that is for another discussion.

Social Media has eliminated a lot of the limitations of the previous media. It has eliminated geography for one, not to mention accessibility. However; these have also become one of the reasons why the rules are so undefined. It is hard when everyone is coming from so many different realities, so many different worlds of which the rules and mannerisms are not the same.

So how do we know what to do and what not to do in Social Media? What etiquette should we adhere to?

I guess when all is said and done, all we really have to do is go back to basics, to our basic morals and values, not to mention, our common sense.

There may be no written rules, but we have our own intelligence to rely on. We have some inklings of the consequences. Do we rant about our bosses? Do stretch the truth? Do what extent should we push FOE? We all know what might happen, so the only question that remains is: should we pursue it?

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3 Responses to Social Media Rules (or the lack of it)

  1. Pattydc says:

    But isn’t common sense not that common after all?

    Your post made me think. You’re right, there are no written rules but then we get mad when some people seemingly violate unwritten ones. More than common sense though, I believe that we should just remember one thing: respect. Maybe it’s because of this FOE thought or maybe it’s because of the anonymity that the internet offers, but I really think that respect is what we should never forget (online or elsewhere).

  2. Jenny says:

    social media has become one of the most convenient ways of expressing our sentiments. i guess that’s one reason why more and more people use it. they have all the freedom to do or say what they want. personally, i don’t like those people who use bad language in their status messages. though i am not the one they are referring to, I somehow feel offended. but as what you mentioned, the parameters of FOE are different from one person to another. what is offending to me can be normal or natural for another.

  3. This is our favorite topic when we’re on our way home, Eya. :)) And what can I say? I couldn’t agree more! Oh my, people these days (me at times included). But still, to each his own… so… it is confusing.

    What’s the purpose of privacy settings? Or again, to each his own. The fact that our online accounts are represent us (however we are in real life) in the online world, may be the excuse why we can rant all we want, it is our account after all. But hey, you are what you publish, right? :> :<

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