Saturday, September 24, 2011

Etiquette and Protocol in the Realm of Social Media

“Words mean things.” A wise person once said.  As the world shrinks (please see blog directly below this) it is important to realize this fact.  Words mean things.  When a verb rubs against a noun something happens.  This is why Bambi’s friend Thumper was told by his mother, “If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.”  Thumper’s mom subscribed to the concepts of etiquette and protocol.  Besides being programmed in over 6 million forms of communication, C-3PO was hard-wired for it, etiquette and protocol. 

Yet again we are tasked with taking something from the stories that we hold dear; stories which are told and retold time and time again.  Some of the seeds are planted in good soil and some are not.  This lesson is not an easy one.  Words, once spilled, are very hard to put back into the bottle, so to speak.  It does not matter if it is spoken, written in long hand or posted on Facebook or Twitter.  If you don’t believe me the next time you are on South Street in Philadelphia and have a hankering for a cheese-steak casually mention how much better a football team the Dallas Cowboys are when compared to the Eagles while you are placing your order.  You will quickly discover that words mean things.  You will also see that while you have the right to freedom of speech here that you will also be held accountable for what you say.  There is a certain responsibility that inherently comes from opening ones mouth – it’s basic cause and effect.  

We are blessed to live in a country where freedom of speech is a right.  There are places where people disappear for their words.  Places not all that far from here.  Last week there were a couple of Twitter users found suspended from a bridge, disemboweled in Mexico because a certain group of people did not like what they were saying.  This is only a recent example.  Tyranny, governmental or otherwise, will always try to silence a populous because revolutions begin with words such as; “justice”, “liberty”, and “freedom”.  Those in power, or those who wish to be, want to keep that power by maintaining a silent population.  It is easier to control a group of people who have no voice.  This is the importance of a free press and the importance of the freedom of speech.  I may not agree with you but you have the right to say what you feel.  This is one of the major reasons why people still want to come here; the freedoms that we so easily take for granted. 

But I digress.  Concerning social media.  I can’t speak for the whole of the internet but I can tell you how I operate or at least what I aspire to, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It’s simple, it’s elegant, and it works most of the time.  Now, with the anonymous nature of social media and the internet slipping into extinction, more than ever it is important to realize that we need to take ownership of the words we say or type or post.  Social media is a tool for communication.  That’s it.  It is not your diary nor should it be.  Don’t post something that you don’t want the world to see or know.  Just what part of “world wide web” do you not understand?  When you send something; pictures, texts, emails… that data is routed on servers across the globe.  It’s more akin to sending a postcard that can be read by whoever wants to pick it up than it is a wax-sealed document.  Those pictures that you sent?  Yeah, THOSE pictures, they are out there… somewhere.  The main point that I’m underlining here is words mean things but that should immediately be followed with don’t be stupid.  Remember what you put out there is out there; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Just like being at the supermarket or on an elevator, or in a library etiquette and protocol go a long way. 

The internet is akin to a living organism.  Here is a “map of the internet”:

It looks like neural pathways, doesn’t it; information electrically traveling via the axons of neurons firing within their own myelin-coated superhighways?  Yes, it resembles a working brain.  Or, perhaps it resembles a universe full of galaxies and solar systems?  You are right with whichever poetic description suits your appetite.  Either way, the graphic representation of internet appears to be… alive.  That’s a mite creepy when thought of in that context but accurate.  What we choose to put “out there” whether it is the electronic or the physical world, defines and identifies us for who we are – not so much the people we package ourselves to be.  Form follows function.

“Don’t be evil” – Google’s motto

“Don’t feed the trolls” – Evil Chicken


Anonymous said...

So you are saying I should cease my daily Facebook posts entitled, "Four Letter Words I use to refer to my boss as?"

E. Chicken said...

No - you need to start a Twitter account with it "$%!# My Boss Says". Get a following and Sha-Boom, CBS will buy the pilot and put it in prime-time.

Yeah, I'd watch that.