If I ever said I was opposed to any form of public media, I really wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. I have been on one media circus train or another (sometimes many, simultaneously) since my youth. Radio, TV, newspaper, and the occasional classy magazine have been my workspace for decades. On the other hand, in the “new” frontier of social media, the playing field has been leveled, and anyone with a finger with which to type can participate in the parade.
This is a mixed blessing.
My wonderful, radiant, introverted wife tends to be far less active on social media for all the obvious reasons. She is the most gracious, civilized person I know (for a Bohemian, I mean). It absolutely horrifies her for her intentions or words to be taken as less than the positive, well-meaning jewel that she actually is. Literally, it is more agreeable to her to stay away from social media than to be misread by another person. (However, she never fails to find an obscure image of Godzilla to post on Facebook, leaving the rest of us who know her wondering what, exactly, is going on inside of that head of hers…)
I have gone the opposite direction. I ride social media like a stolen mule—my decorum, decency and self-consciousness bouncing down the road and over the cliff. It is too much temptation for me not to write an intimate note to 5,000 friends. Maybe I need to follow some rules. Here are a few I dug up from a blog by someone who goes by “Mr. Banks.” Thanks, Banks.
- “Don’t pretend to be someone you are not.”
This struck my suspicious side right off the bat, Mr. Banks being a pseudonym. Does not telling who you are equal pretending to be someone you’re not? Hypocrite.
- “Don’t be a smart aleck.” (“Banks” used another word for “aleck.”)
This was particularly laughable to me as a card-carrying smart aleck. If I got on social media and wrote or spoke without sarcasm, how would my friends know it was really me? (See rule No. 1.)
- “Don’t get into arguments.”
Much easier said than done. It took me at least two years to understand when the “discussion” light turned into the “argument” light. It’s a tricky distinction, like when people can’t distinguish yellow from red on, say, Bell Street. Sometimes the “discussion” heats up without one party realizing that it is happening, and then suddenly you’ve got yourself a genuine brew-ha-ha, part of which is due to the lack of human voice. We understand a lot more than we realize by tone, I believe.
- “Don’t stoop too low.”
Objection, your honor. Some people have NO honor, and therefore have no relative idea of “low.” Unfortunately, you or I could be in the middle of a discussion with one of those people long before that discovery. That is another reason my wife stays well below the social media radar. Maybe she is right after all. Do not read this to her.
- “Double check your grammar.”
That should go without saying. Along with, “check your spelling,” “check your (you’re) contractions,” and a few other things. You can tell fairly quickly what kind of person you are dealing with by the way they use, or abuse, the language.
- “Interact with people.”
“Social media” includes the word social. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) Still, some people post on social media like it is just a big billboard, never going back to check responses or communicate further. That is no fun.
- “Censor yourself.”
This one is no joke to me. It is very important to be sure you are not ugly, obscene or short-sighted in your communication. Also remember that words are forever, and all the sayings apply here, for instance: “Make your words sweet, because you never know when you may have to eat them.” It is easy enough for something to be taken wrong, without the added offense of rough language. That might sound old-fashioned, but not if you have kids, nephews, nieces or grandchildren.
- “Don’t post party photos.”
My generation is so fortunate. It was such an effort to take a photo, get it developed, weed through the stack, and find the pic you were looking for. Then there was no place remotely comparable to showcase them. In other words, you had time to think about that photo. Now you can show the entire world how ignorant you can be with the flick of a fingertip.
- “Link original sources.”
I’m not doing that one today, mostly because I’m making fun of them. Right, Mr. Banks?
- “Have fun.”
If I were to follow all these rules, I am afraid that would really put a crimp in my style.