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Manners for the digital age



Do: Share your strong opinions — respectfully.

We’ve all been told to keep our thoughts about politics and religion to ourselves. But the beauty of social media is the conversation and dialogue it opens. When done tastefully, opinionated posts are welcome. Rox explains, “The thing about social media is that it’s holistic, and silences are communication, too. You can be informative, share your point of view, share which holidays you celebrate or what matters to you. If done respectfully and in balance with all of your other messaging, these details are how we learn about each other and widen our worldview. This is one of the big draws of social media in the first place.”

Do: Tell your family’s story.

We all tell our stories online today — 140-character snippets on Twitter, Instagrammed slices of our days, short Facebook blurbs and blog posts all share our family’s small moments. But we do have to purposefully decide which stories are ours to tell, and which ones aren’t. When in doubt, ask for permission to write that post or share that photo. And if you’re uncomfortable asking, then skip it. Try to think about what might be embarrassing to your child five, 10 or even 15 years from now. Just like in our offline lives, it’s important to be authentic and to be real online, but it’s more important to be respectful and kind. The magic of social media is the sharing, and the etiquette is the kindness.

Do: Talk to brands.

Communicating with brands via social media is using your resources — and your time — wisely. But ask yourself why you’re choosing a public social media outlet over a private phone call or email. Is it the easiest way to communicate, or are you hoping to gain something by going public? Online marketing consultant Liz Jostes explains, “Social media shouldn’t be your first line of defense. It’s always best to first voice your frustration directly to that business and attempt to solve your problem off social media.”

Do: Fundraise.

Fundraising is a skill that needs to be learned at one point or another. Selling Girl Scout cookies or raising money for a charity you believe in is made easier by utilizing our social media reaches. If it’s something you’d ask a friend to help you fund in person, it’s OK to ask online as well — respectfully. Jostes explains, “We don’t like to be constantly asked offline to donate money or buy cookies, and the same is true in the online world. These asks should be limited and within reason.”

Do: Share your ups and downs.

Being authentic means sharing your triumphs and your failures. Be mindful of not turning your shares into complaints, but rather as slices into reality. A potential boss might not like reading about every single job you didn’t get, but sharing that you’re struggling makes you real. Rox says, “The truth is, we learn as much from stories of mishaps as from successes. Imagine two cave fireside stories, one story of a great harvest of dandelions, and one where someone fell sick after eating those long-stemmed mushrooms we’re all curious about. The first story may feel wonderful, but the second is the one that helps us survive.”

More on social media

How social media affects your body image
Is Twitter destroying or enhancing your marriage?
A guide to effective communication in the age of social media

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