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Mr. Manners : Why So Rude? (Social Media Etiquette)

We have become slaves.  We are slaves to a screen that provides us a moment of affirmation, feeding off our most basic of desires: approval. No, I think it has become far worse. It’s a disease. We have lost the opportunity to have a mindful conversation. Losing out on vital nuances because we look down on the screen. We are losing out on the power of now. In many ways, we are beginning to lose out on emotions.

I don’t want to be dramatic, but I do want to say that the mobile device, and social media has made people impersonal. If you have watched enough of Black Mirror, you would understand how we have become like mice in an experiment, seeking approval to have a treat, and for a fleeting moment feel joy.

I have been bothered by the fact that being rude is now acceptable. I have never seen so much hurt and disrespect on social media. People comment freely, with total disregard of others' feelings. I guess, it could be said that our moral fiber is under attack. Social media has allowed us to hide behind the screen of emojis, and pellet people with epithets. Although this is true, there is promise for those who give praise and encouragement.

Much like the gangs of yore, social media tribes come to the aide of flock, and with not much thought, pummel an individual to a virtual pulp. In the days of civility, we lived within our circle and managed our reputation, and more importantly respected. Being liked was not all that mattered. It was about having integrity.

It has simply become so easy to be rude. Social media creates bullies. The traffic brings out road rage. And the whole spectre of our society raises its arms to vilify those that do not share the views of the majority. The faceless names (not really faceless because they do post their photo) that you have not met, or will never meet judge you for your thoughts, and take you down.

The hardest part is that there are no real consequences to poor behavior, and as things go, we are short on kindness. If people we are to respect and hold in high esteem cannot be accountable for their actions, why bother with manners?

I always say that manners are far more important today, than ever.  Manners aren't about the right glass, or where to place the napkin, it's a lot about being kind to others. We have lost the fine art of chatting people up and managing discourse. The text message, left unanswered can conjure up a lot of evil thoughts. The viber message sent to many can be a prelude to something really sordid. So, maybe it's best we look at ways to help remind ourselves of forms of good manners, especially now in our rabid, must-know now, online world. Here are my thoughts:

 

Be real, and be mindful.  Your online self, and your real self should be the same. If you have nothing good to say, don’t say it. If you must, have the courage to say it to the face.  I have seen people who try to gather support to bring down a person’s day or what they perceive as their triumph. A troll-filled world leaves everyone up for chops, but I guess if we are true, it would be less harried. My take is think before you comment, or simply be a lurker. You don’t have to like or comment on everything. It isn’t keeping score, like for a like!

 

Don’t overshare or humble brag. Everyone can be polarizing. If you don’t want to be the subject of bullying, maybe it's best to keep to knitting, or being cognizant of your digital friends list. It’s not being paranoid, but being careful. Your page, your feed. Bragging has taken a new meaning with social media. The opportunity to subtly show one's fortune can be abit overzealous. But my view is if you don’t like it, don’t follow. But really, do you really need to keep showing your abs, your dog, or your new car?

 

Keep information to yourself. I look at this as like sharing another person's phone number, before you do, ask if it is okay. Social media, and the era of false news can become total gossip. So, don’t invade people's privacy, and don’t provide information about a person who has not shared on their own. Don’t tag a person without asking, or post a picture without informing others.

 

Keep the phone away. I always write about the need to find a way to detach from the virtual world. Having the phone on the table, and constantly gazing at it shows that it is more important than the company you are keeping. Use of cellphone  during parties are so normal and really put out any form of engaging conversation. Put your phone on silent, or keep it in your bag or your pocket. I have a friend who collects those phones and places them in a box in their study, and if they do need to check on the phone, you do it within a reasonable time. Come on, a text or an email can wait when you are with company.

 

Always ask people if they can take a call. On-the-whim calls can be very disconcerting, especially if you miss it. A call like that can cause a lot of anxiety, so best to send a message and state the reason for the call. If it is personal, say so. Ask them for a good time to call, and make time to do so. I have learned that people will return your call in time, but sometimes it may overlooked. I do need to say it would really be polite to answer the text, and say you will call them back later. So, when you need to reach someone, ask them when it is best, and state the reason. For the person being texted, respond, and give a time. That way everything will be at ease. With people genetically attached to their phones, it seem strange that a simple, get-back-to-you can't happen.

 

Our online presence has become bigger then our reality. We live in time where “smoke and mirrors” can become true. For many, our page is our new photo album, a collection of memories. Who carries a camera these days? Or makes photo albums? I, for one, look at my feed to remember events, places, or dishes.

Social media has become a wonderful tool to keep in touch and in pace with friends and family that we couldn’t before. It is experiential, like feeling the snow fall  on my sister's page in Vancouver. And let us keep it that way. 

Good manners is just about thinking what other people will feel when you post something, or react in a particular way. Kindness and civility need to shine. What do you get out of being rude? Will it solve anything? I don’t think so.