Social Media Etiquette
By Pam Farrel
Chances are, you're on Facebook. Or you've sent a tweet, an instant message, or an e-mail. In this age of social media, it may seem like we "text" our friends more than we physically "talk" to them! But sometimes, words don't carry the same tone as one's voice. An innocent email may come off as sounding harsh, even if there were only good intentions! To help avoid these mishaps, think of what the Beatitudes said: "Blessed are those..."
Blessed means "Happy." When using social media, you'll remain happy if you follow a few simple considerations to protect your relationships and life:
Blessed are those that tweet unto others as you would have tweeted unto you.
Use the golden rule when posting anything about anyone: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk. 6:31). Before you post, put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Blessed are those who use a GPS to post.
God promises to bless those who walk in integrity.
Psalm 7:10 says, “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.” We encourage people to create an inner GPS and ask three questions before saying or doing anything, especially before posting.
Does this decision show respect for:
Blessed are those that converse in real time what they want said and posted in cyberspace.
Have a conversation with those you love about what posts, photos, and content they are comfortable having you share on your account or posting to theirs. Comfort and privacy levels vary.
Blessed are those that learn the tools of the trade.
It’s wiser to learn the ins and outs of Twitter, Facebook, etc. from someone you think uses it well. From the moment a post or photo goes viral it’s live and it may never be recoverable no matter how quickly you hit the trash can or the delete button. If you do make a mistake, quickly delete and let others know who might be impacted.
Blessed are those who believe, “If it looks like a hack, moves like a hack, it must be a hack.”
If a post looks different from what that friend usually posts, move with caution especially if it looks like a movie, survey, or game application. Hackers are always coming up with new ways to gain access. If you happen to click on something you think is from a friend or trusted source and it is not, quickly change your password, and then alert those that were impacted.
Blessed are those that use discernment and direct message.
If you are going to say anything at all private or use double entendre, use the text phone to phone, “Direct Message” on Twitter, “Send a Message” on Facebook, or better yet, text to his or her phone, email, or call. The general rule: The more important, volatile, or intimate the message, the more it should be given live or at least with a phone call, voice to voice.
Blessed is the person who protects the pix.
Pictures posted should honor people’s images at work, in the community, and church. Facebook offers a “request to tag,” which means you can send someone a picture privately and they approve the tag and the photo will then appear on your page (it is released to go public). Others might not enjoy photos you think they would if they go public. For example, I took a picture of my husband, Bill, pulling my luggage through the airport after a grueling trip. I thought it showed his chivalry, a man caring for his wife. He was less than thrilled at the post because my luggage is bright pink! I should have “requested a tag.”
Blessed are those that build and bless with words.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 enlightens us to the type of words to select: encourage one another and build up one another. Your words should be the same ones Jesus would use to build up, honor, or praise others. Sprouter Community Manager Erin Bury advises, “Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”
Blessed are those that work out issues offline.
Social media is not the place to resolve a personal problem. Never use social media, email, or texting to discuss a sensitive topic. The nuances of emotions are not carried well through electronic methodology. You cannot see a person’s face, feel pain to empathize with, or give personal physical touch which is often the real key to resolving differences. Think before you push “send.” If in doubt, wait it out! Hold the message for 24 hours and pray it through. Better yet, pick up the phone and set a date to talk.
Blessed are those that bring good news.
Isaiah 52:7 reminds us, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,” Use social networking to spread good news. (Note: Do not rob others from sharing their own good news. For example, let your friend announce her own engagement. If your husband wins an award or gets a promotion, ask first before you take the joy he might get of telling others the exciting news).
Blessed are those that tweet, post, and email helpful information.
Using social media to send links that may improve someone’s quality of life or strengthen them spiritually can be used by God to dramatically help someone in an expedient way. Be discerning in the way you send.
Blessed if you are “iron sharpening iron.”
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Social media is the new “talk radio” or public square of opinion. Present views but do it with reasonable logical thought, facts, and quotes that back your case. Again, this information is for sharing thought of public debate not private disagreements.
Blessed are those that post using reasonable icons.
DO NOT POST EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPS OR PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU ARE YELLING. And every statement you make does not need a smiley face after it. Icons are great for emphasis, but don’t over use.
Blessed are those that share humor and levity.
The world is a negative, harsh place most days, so if you can lift a spirit or bring a smile do so. Proverbs 17:22 reminds us, “A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing”. . . However, do not use humor at someone else’s expense. To give a blessing in the Old Testament meant to give a set of words “to speak well of another person” or “to provide with power for success or prosperity.” Be a blessing on and offline.
Social media is truly a blessing. It can connect friends and loved ones who are worlds apart. Messages of love, friendship and joy can be shared instantly. A tweet or a Facebook "like" can brighten someone's day. By keeping in mind the beatitudes of social media, we can help ensure electronic communication is just as warm and kind as an in-person exchange.