Digital etiquet

In these days of everyone throwing all of their business on the web for the whole world to see, I begin to wonder about the rules of engagement. I’m not talking about hackers or identity thieves, but about the analog version of human interaction. Real face to face conversation with living humans your reach out and touch, and how our digital lives relate to our personal interactions. I ponder this because I don’t believe the web has been totally integrated into our concepts of personal space.
I’m a web savvy suburbanite, so of course I have a facebook page and two twitter accounts. The facebook page is for my family and far flung friends. I keep the friends list small and limited to people I actually know, and post stuff I would probably tell them over the phone (which I do far too infrequently these days). Basically, I manage my online interactions in the same way I manage my personal interactions. They’re the same thing to me.
For some though, it’s harder to be as selective online. If your facebook friends have 300 friends, surely you should have 300 friends as well. Accepting friend requests from people you hardly know is just the way it’s done. It’s awkward to deny a co-workers friend request and then see them everyday. Still, is it any less awkward when that new co-worker you just meet yesterday but accepted the night before comments on that Halloween party picture in your gallery? You know the one. Yeah… that one.
Where do we draw the line? How well should you know someone before you let them into your digital domain? When is it acceptable to discuss something you saw online (but weren’t a part of) with someone in person? Maybe that co-worker just wanted to feel like they belonged. Maybe they wanted to get to know the group better. How do we prevent awkward real world moments from being caused by digital openness?
Personally, I just post stuff I wouldn’t mind my mother seeing. She is a friend of mine on facebook after all. Are there pictures of me doing dumb things out there? You bet. Do I put them up for the world to see? Absolutely not.
When I get to that awkward place where a co-worker asked me why I haven’t accepted their friend request, I tell them the truth. I view social networking as a way to keep in touch with people I care about, not keep up with work scuttlebutt when I’m at home. Then I spend the next few months frequently denying their vein attempts at friending me (some people just don’t get it).
A few of my co-workers have gone so far as to delete their pages or all of their work friends. I wasn’t hurt or angry that they didn’t want to be my online friend anymore. My real life friendships with them certainly haven’t been impacted by it. Now when I say “What’s up”, I genuinely have no clue and the resulting conversation doesn’t seem redundant.
I’ve always advocated moderation in the online environment. I believe a person should cultivate a few strong relationships rather than many acquaintances. Social networking is a great tool for keeping in touch, but instant access to a relative stranger’s personal life is a bit much. On an unrelated note, follow me on Twitter @faultcode113.

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About faultcode113

I'm just a normal thirty something guy. Married with a house, tow cars, and one dog. I enjoy my work, but not always my job. I love to travel abroad, specifically the UK. I swear I was the tallest guy in Tokyo when I was there. I prefer reading to movies and tv. I prefer Sci-fi to most everything else. I feel it fits better as an escapist past time. I'm also a student of history. How can one learn from the past if they don't know anything about it? If this all seems rather random, it is. My life has been a series of free associations. I wouldn't have it any other way. If you like what I post, tell a friend. If you don't, tell a friend anyways. They might like it. FC113 View all posts by faultcode113

One response to “Digital etiquet

  • externaldrive

    I think you can tell a lot about a person from their online etiquette – if someone at work seeks you out on Facebook, but won’t talk to you in the hall – if they have 300 friends on Facebook but have no one to call when they need a corporeal friend (…or bail money), what kind of person are they? Words like shallow, vapid, and hypocritical come to mind, but maybe I’m being too harsh? Maybe, like with videogames, they’re treating friends like tokens – whoever gets the most wins. Either way, I don’t think anything of being a discerning friend-clicker on social networks. My real friends know that I’m crappy at commitment and don’t expect me to respond. Hell, it takes me months just to answer an email…or comment on another friend’s blog 🙂

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