The fireworks of social media

09/18/2009 at 1:56 PM Leave a comment

collin-polaFireworks are awesome. They are fun to watch and even more fun to light. But here’s the thing about fireworks: if not handled correctly, they can be catastrophic.

The same point can be made about social media. It’s fun and attention-grabbing, but it can also be destructive if executed poorly. Yesterday, I read a blog post where the writer obviously did not learn about fire safety; so to my younger readers and those not too familiar with social media culture, here are some safety guidelines:

Social media is on the Internet and, therefore, public. Never, ever, EVER (just for emphasis) post something online thinking only a few people will see/read it. Just like you should assume a gun is always loaded, you should also always assume your friends are not your only audience.

Social media is not the best place to vent. Before I start, random Twitter or Facebook updates saying something like, “Man today sucked,” is not what I’m talking about. That is letting off steam; we all need to do it sometimes. What I am addressing is a full-blown vent-fest only appropriate for your friends, your mom or a psychiatrist. If you write an essay-long blog post publicly calling someone out (Kanye West is an exception, go to town on him) or blowing-up after something has bothered you for a while, it probably won’t end well. Remember guideline one: some unintended person will probably read it. If that happens, you will come off as rude or condescending, when instead you probably just had a really bad day.

Everyone has an opinion on social media (this article is proof). The Internet commenter is the modern critic. I’m not saying this a good or a bad thing, because I have seen it go both ways. Social media has provided the opportunity for pretty much anyone to point out a mistake you’ve made. Now stay with me here, if you are venting, you are generally mad. Anger can lead to irrational behavior, which often leads to mistakes. Once this happens and (playing off guideline two) your readers think you’re a jerk, enjoy the commentary firestorm that is to follow. If you give people a reason to talk bad about you, they will.

So that’s it, keep these rules in mind and your social media experience should be nothing but pleasant.

P.S. Everyone going to the TCU game on Saturday should grab a program. An ad we created for McKinley’s is featured, and it rocks. GO FROGS!

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