Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Are You Saying?

 If you're reading this, you're obviously online in one way or another. Being online, I'm sure you're familiar with social media such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. I use social media for a variety of reasons. I'll list them cuz bullets are fun. Get ready for some bulletizing!!!

  • News. I hardly ever watch the news on TV and I haven't read an actual newspaper in years. I use Twitter and Facebook, specifically, to keep up with the news. Sometimes, breaking news hits Twitter before reporters can get it out there themselves. 
  • Keeping up with friends and family. It's been about four years or so (I can't really remember) since I have been to Ohio to visit. And that last time was to be there for my dad's open heart surgery, hardly a social event. My nearest relative lives about eight hours away. My nearest friend lives about 12 or 13 hours away. I don't get the opportunity to see people face to face. I use Facebook to send out birthday wishes, peruse pictures of people's babies that I've never gotten the chance to see in person, and keep up with what everyone is doing. It honestly makes me feel connected.
  • Express my opinion. Social media is a great way of saying what you want, when you want, and about whatever you want. For instance, sometimes I get really fed up with what people are saying on Facebook. So, I'll make a blanket statement about the moronic and inappropriate (IMO), things people post on Facebook. I don't direct it at anyone specifically so that nobody really has the right to take it personally, but I feel better having pointed a finger without really having pointed a finger.
  • Research. I use social media to find reviews for restaurants and businesses. I also use it for decorating, crafting, cooking, and DIY ideas, just to name a few. Pinterest and Yelp are lovely resources. 
  • Work. I've used social media many, many times for professional reasons. I found my first client on Twitter which led to business ownership. I continued to use it to find new clients. I also used to it for marketing purposes for my own business as well as in my independent contractor status for other businesses. 
  • Entertainment. Social media is great for keeping up with your favorite TV shows, movies, and celebrities. I especially enjoy using social media for news about my favorite authors and books. 
I'm sure there are other ways that I, and you, use social media. It really has endless possibilities. All that being said, this isn't even the main point of this blog post. My main topic is, do you ever stop to think about what you are saying when you're online? And I don't just mean literally. I'll explain.

When you send a friend request to someone on Facebook and it doesn't get accepted, what do you think? Maybe the person just doesn't immediately notice friend requests. They weren't ignoring you or refusing you, they just didn't see it. I've been guilty of this. I'll be puttering around on Facebook and notice a friend request sitting there and think, "Huh. How long has that been there?" I don't always get e-mail notifications. Still, by not acknowledging a friend request, it can be a gentle way of saying, "I hate you and don't want to be your friend in any capacity. Go away."

Delving further into this subject...

What about when you're friends with Jane who is married to John but you're not friends with John and a friend request hasn't come from either side. What does that say? That you don't like John? That you're not comfortable being online friends with someone else's husband?

And what if your spouse is friends with both John and Jane and as a couple, you know them in real life but you're only friends with Jane? Or maybe you're not online friends with either one of them. Is that sending an unspoken message as well? Does Jane just not like you?  Not being friends with either, that couple must like your spouse but not you?

Would it just be more polite to accept every friend request you get but then select the option that makes their status updates not appear on your FB page. I've done that. Sometimes, I'm just not interested in what certain teenagers have to say or seeing the 1001 "selfies" that they post on a daily basis. Sorry. (Actually I'm not sorry.)

That takes us to what you're saying when you're actually typing something and hitting "send". Social media certainly gives people the needed distance, and thus protection and even anonymity in some cases, they need to speak their minds without regard to how their opinions might offend. Again, freedom of speech does not equal freedom from repercussions. To be totally cliche, words hurt just as much as fists, sometimes, more so. 

A common place for people to stand their ground is that "It's my Facebook (Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.) page and I'll do with it what I want and if you don't like it, you can unfriend me." Thanks for your permission to block your annoying, foul-language-filled, sexually inappropriate, I've-gone-to-the-gym, I'm-at-a-bar-for-the-20th-time-this-week, I'm-a-religious-hypocrite updates. I'll get right on that. Feel free to block me/unfriend me right back. I won't take it personally. I promise.

In the end...
  • I didn't realize being considerate of others meant infringing on your freedom of speech.
  • I only accept FB friend requests from people that I know so if I didn't accept yours, you can assume:
    • I don't know you IRL. I'm getting old, so maybe I don't remember you.
    • I don't like you
  • Trust me when I say that the vast majority of your followers could give two turds about how often you go to the gym. Although, I do like following a weight loss journey...
  • I assume you're irresponsible and most likely an alcoholic when you post 7 days a week about your bar/drinking excursions. 
  • Make sure your freaking pins actually lead somewhere and not just to an image. Grr!
  • Know your audience. If you're friends with my daughters, I will unfriend you for them if I decide that your language, pictures, memes, etc. are inappropriate. The oldest may be 17, but the youngest is 14 and developmentally, she's 11. I don't care if you're family or not. And if you are family, theoretically, you should care more. This is why I feel that the label of "family" means squat but that's for another post.
  • Posting about your sex life online is:
    • In bad taste. Geez. Yeah it is. Stop arguing with me.
    • Not appropriate for younger audiences. It just isn't, no matter what you think.
    • You're in a relationship and getting some? Well, that's just odd. ::sarcasm much?::
  • I love pet pictures. 
  • I love cat memes.
  • I love baby pictures. 
  • When you publicly rant about being allowed to say what you want, when you want, you're also publicly acknowledging that you know you're being offensive in some way. Think about that.
  • When you post your drama online, you're inviting people into your private life and inviting them to express an opinion about your dumb decisions/actions. Yup.
  • Be political. Just don't be political all the time.

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