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Social Media Etiquette for Casual Users

Social media tools provide endless opportunities to connect people of all walks of life, from entrepreneurs to food enthusiasts to purveyors of cute cat pictures. Social networking hubs like Facebook have streamlined online socialization to the point where chatting with a friend online seems more normal than talking to them in person. Online socialization is the new norm, a norm whereby interaction between millions of people over just as many topics sits on the web free to public viewing. Now that the web catalogues entire histories of friendships through social networking sites, people more readily critique a person based on the content they post through their online identity. I propose a few rules of social media etiquette to prevent people from incurring the wrath of stronger personalities (trolls) on the web.

Write Well

Basic grammar mistakes are an easy target for the less tactful trolls on the web.  It’s not uncommon for someone to post a status on Facebook or compose a tweet with some minor spelling mistake or grammatical error; it’ll go unnoticed more often than not. But occasionally a self-ascribed grammarian will make a grammatical mistake the subject of a public rant on poor writing. It’s best to avoid such a situation by reviewing your posts, comments, and blogs (if you have any) prior to submitting them for public view. Think of your writing as an extension of your online persona; if you want to be viewed in a positive light, you should strive to make your writing as clear as possible.

Resist the Urge to Argue

The web thrives on conversations between people over a myriad of subject matter. Unfortunately, much of the substantive conversation on the web runs the risk of devolving into mindless arguing over pointless details. Some people simply thrive off the contention they can brew over the web. You’re surely familiar with this scenario: you watch a hilarious YouTube video of some daredevil performing a stunt in his front yard, and the comments raging below the clip all involve the type of grass on the lawn. Those types of web-based arguments are amusing until you come across one that impels you to chime in with your own opinion. Steer clear of these arguments unless they’re hosted on a hospitable service open to fair discussion. While your opinion certainly matters, you run the risk of having it ridiculed and derided if you wander unawares into an argument; you’re better off taking your opinions elsewhere. 

Remember that the Web is a Public Space

Above all else, remember that the web is (mostly) a public space. I may sound like a police officer, but anything you say and share on the web can and will be used against you. If you’ve offended someone or had reason to come under intense scrutiny, a quick Google search could turn up years and years of web activity, all logged by social media services. Monitor your content with strict privacy controls so that those who are allowed to see your profiles only see what you want them to see. Most social media services allow you to block your profile from public view at all, so safeguard yourself in advance.

Of course, you could also make sure that everything you ever post on the web is G-rated and completely bereft of any potentially incriminating information. But that’s something that few can attest to, since any inconsequential information could be later determined as damning evidence. A snarky comment about an acquaintance on Facebook has the potential to blow up in your face months down the line. So do you best to edit your behavior, but don’t be afraid to enforce stringent privacy controls should you feel vulnerable. 

[author] [author_info]About the Author

Guest writer Lauren Bailey regularly writes for best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email, blauren99 


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