8/17/08

THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF NAVIGATING ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITES

I thought that I would take a break from writing about leadership principles and since I haven’t been writing for a while as it was I thought I’d write about something that’s been intriguing me for the past few months. Social networking is nothing new…it’s been around for over a decade. Can you imagine writing about the Ford only a decade after its conception? Well that’s the feeling that’s going through my mind. But maybe back then a reporter was calling for a need for uniformity as more and more people were starting to drive…this is just that. If you use Facebook, MySpace or both…each are similar enough for me to formulate some do’s and don’ts about these social networking sites. First off, let me say that the following is a lighthearted poke at how great social networking is…and how it is abused. Whether you like it or not please take the following comments with a grain of salt. Do’s: 1. Do make friends with as many people as possible. You really have no choice in the matter. If you are like me and your posse is few than…beggars can’t be choosers. I know, I know, there may be that person that you might just barely know or may have just met…but who really cares just go ahead and add them. You’re a jerk if you deny or ignore someone and a friend if you do. 2. Do add applications and keep in touch with friends. Possibly one of the greatest tools of social networking is maintaining a personal webpage that let’s people know who you are, now friends with, what you are doing, and whether you’ve changed at all. Applications aide in this, merely for fun, or to let people know about your favorite books or movies, likes and dislikes. 3. Do update your status. It’s good to know when you’re dating someone, when you got engaged, and if you just broke up. That’s always good material. There’s really nothing worse than someone who occasionally checks it. C’mon people, you joined…just take the time to update everyone and keep in touch with your social network. Don’ts: 1. Don’t make your private issue a public one. One thing that I’ve noticed is that people are using social networking sites as a sort of PSA (public service announcement) system. The instances or the people that I am talking about tend to use these websites to make everything all about them. You know who you are. You’re the passive aggressive type that likes your status update to tell someone that you’re upset with them…rather than telling them in person. You’re the type that hungers for attention, so what do you do? You write notes or update your status to draw attention to yourself. I could really write a whole blog on this, especially from eight years worth of seeing this done. These are social networking sites. In social functions, do you tell everyone your business? No. So either use the private messaging system that both sites provide or keep your private issues private. 2. Don’t over do it on the applications. I’ve visited some Facebook pages that look as though Elmo has thrown up Fruity Pebbles all over the place. You also know who you are. If the number of Facebook applications exceeds the single digits…you have a problem. You either have no-one to love you and thus love yourself too much, or are simply trying to entertain yourself. 3. Don’t overuse or abuse social networking sites. Please don’t invite me to join your one-time group, or to join your cause. As much kudos as the media gives to Obama for using the internet to promote his cause, please don’t follow in his footsteps. If I haven’t already proclaimed my stance or concern for an issue, chances are you’re not going to motivate me to join yours. Sorry that’s just the way it is. Well, I hope you gained some insight into social networking. Again, it’s social for a reason. At a birthday party do you hand out political stickers? When you are in a public setting do you fart really loud drawing attention to yourself? Do you pick your nose and eat it at a restaurant? Rhetorically the answer is of course no. Remember that society has written and unwritten rules, it’s the structural glue that keeps the world spinning, so please stay within those guidelines, whether they’re mine or not, just have some sort of social responsibility to yourself and to your friends.

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