Social Media and Internet Etiquette 101
Let’s say you follow someone on instagram. You see what they’re up to on Saturday mornings, know what the inside of their home looks like, and have followed this person through numerous significant events in their life. So while you might not actually know them, it certainly doesn’t feel that way.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s a scenario we can all relate to. Yes?
Great. I’ll continue.
Social media and blogging are two things I go back and forth on every few months. I’ve taken quite a few breaks, but there are periods (like right now) when I truly enjoy creating content. And then there are times I wonder about the meaning of it all or need to check out (from social media–don’t worry, not getting that dark on you).
Sometimes, I’ll share something personal and get an email from a reader who’s been struggling with something similar, thanking me for making them feel less alone. I love connecting with people and if something I’m going through can help someone else, that’s really what it’s all about.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we treat each other online. Email and comments (via blogs and social media) have given us direct access to these otherwise perfect strangers. Which leaves us open to questions, comments, ridicule, critiques, etc. And the pressure to follow, keep up, post, and not let anyone down can feel like a lot on both sides of the spectrum. So it’s no wonder this sort of access can feel wonderful, crazy, and completely exhausting.
Here are a few things to consider.
It isn’t real and it certainly isn’t the whole story
Blogs and social media are nothing more than a glimpse into the life of what someone we don’t know chooses to put out there. Chances are that they’ve smiled through heartache, posted something pretty when dealing with something difficult, and have left out the bad time and time again. I have friends who are very open that have gone through huge life changes, waiting a few days, weeks, or months to share the news with their followers.
I’ve done that, too.
Case in point: Conor moved into my place after selling his condo 4 months ago, but I never said anything about it online. Until now. And I still didn’t feel like I needed to share it. I’m just proving a point here.
Before you make assumptions about the people you follow, consider this.
Say please and thank you
I’d like to be very clear here and tell you that I do not mind answering your questions and try my best to respond to everyone. If I’ve missed one of your questions, please ask in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help. This is simply about how questions are asked. Let’s say someone you follow shares a photo of the cutest sweater you’ve ever seen and you need to know where she got it. The easy answer would be to leave a comment asking where it’s from.
If the answer isn’t in the caption or post, just ask nicely.
Where’s your sweater from? – wrong
I love your sweater. Would you mind telling me where you bought it? Thank you! – nailed it
It’s really as simple as saying something nice and throwing out a please or thank you. Together, we can make the internet a friendlier place.
Stealing is bad
If you’re going to use someone’s photo, tagging them in the image is great because they’re likely to see that you reposted their work. Well done. But you should also always include credit in the caption which should read something like “photo by @daniellemoss_“. The same goes for graphics or anything you’re posting that doesn’t belong to you.
Don’t ask someone you don’t know to grab coffee so they can help you
Helping others is why I share posts like this one. It’s why we launched The Everygirl. And I love connecting with people. So while this only happens once every few months, when someone I don’t know asks to meet for coffee so I can answer their questions about growing a blog or starting a business, I don’t want to say no because it’s in my nature to help. Reaching out to someone with a question or for advice is fine, but I’d make it more about connecting and less about what they can do for you, and let that happen naturally. Does that make sense?
There’s a right and wrong way to connect with someone new, so rather than go on and on about this, I’ll direct you to this post by my friend Jess.
The anonymity of the internet has allowed some people (none of you, I’m sure) to forget about basic manners and kindness. I’m all for constructive criticism, but going after someone’s looks or weight is not ok. Mzznaki Tetteh handled very cruel behavior with grace and class, but don’t tell me her feelings weren’t hurt, even if only a little. So here’s a PSA to remember that there’s a real person behind that instagram account. Someone with feelings. And no matter how exciting or perfect their job and life might seem, it’s just not. No one has it all. So let’s support each other and be nice. Even when it’s just to a random stranger on the internet.