Somewhere between John Perry Barlow’s poetic and wildly optimistic A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” and the recent suicides of several teens bullied on Facebook and Instagram, the Internet became a brutal and seemingly unforgiving space.
We decided to document our own (short) set of rules for social media. Apologies if this reads like Baz Luhrman’s self-help record Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) …
- Man is a social animal (although sometimes it doesn’t seem that way). Social media includes the word social. So be sociable. Just because it isn’t face-to-face communication, that’s no reason to forget your manners. Take or leave the Bible, but the bit about “do unto others…” is just plain common sense.
- Post when you feel like it. Post because you want to not because you think you have to.
- Reply when you feel like it. Even when someone replies to you, you’re not obliged to counter-reply ad infinitum.
- You don’t always have to have the last word. See above.
- Don’t feel obliged to follow everyone who’s following you.
- Don’t feel guilty about not following someone – a relative, a friend, a favourable reviewer.
- Don’t be guilty to stop following someone. Interests and opinions change. Sometimes you’re just not into them.
- Don’t be offended when people stop following you. Sometimes they’re just not into you either.
- At least try to be nice – it won’t kill you.
- Don’t be offensive just to be provocative. It’s not big or clever. Also see above.
- Self censor. Sometimes you write embarrassing, irrelevant and uninteresting gibberish. There’s no need to inflict that on other people. That internal-edit button may be the most valuable you ever use. Also see above.
- Don’t censor other people. It’s called free speech. You may not like what they have to say, but it’s their right to say it. And yours.
What follows isn’t exactly a rule, so much as good sense.
Fortunately the computer isn’t a motor vehicle, that’s still no reason to drive (or post) under the influence of intoxicating substances. Write that way if you like, but unplug the modem cable while you do it. Review when sober, then press submit or delete. You’ll thank yourself for it later.