Social media is a wonderful invention that has allowed loved ones and friends across the world to communicate more regularly, helped solve crimes and found missing people. As someone who loves social media, it really pisses me off when I hear statements like “I hate Facebook because people share stuff they shouldn’t”. Um no, Facebook isn’t at fault, people are at fault. People have lost their moral compass. People who would rather five seconds of glory of being the first one to post an image or a story instead of stopping and thinking about the other people involved with the post. It happens all the time, weddings, birth announcements, engagements and sadly even with tragedies.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while but the recent turn of events with the horrible event of a plane full of innocent people being shot down, has really brought this issue to the fore once again but on a much larger scale than the odd image or post. Less than 24 hours after this horrible tragedy, people had taken upon themselves to share photos of the bodies of the dead. I’m sorry – NO NO NO – there is no right option for this one – NONE ZIP NADA ZILCH.
This is not about social media sites like Facebook, Twitter etc – this is about a moral responsibility to other human beings whether you know them or not! If you have to ask yourself should I or shouldn’t I post this then the answer is always no. If it didn’t personally happen to you then the answer is always no. If it would upset even one person then the answer is no. It’s called etiquette, social media etiquette. It’s the same etiquette that should be applied in life. Go back fifty years and instead of posting on social media you were simply the town gossip. That’s right, the person that had to know everything about everyone and tell everyone else regardless of feelings, emotions or situations. Ignore the moral responsibility of your actions and you are no better than the next gossip although when it comes to posting photos that is even worse as it is an immediate visual seen by many.
So how do we stop this scourge…we take responsibility for who we are and what we do. We have become a society that passes the buck to the next person..it’s not my fault, we shouldn’t have social media! No, it is your fault, you should not post it and you should take responsibility for it. It is bad enough we have news outlets prepared to invade privacy of people in the public eye but when we as lay people do it we are no better than the paparazzi. It is an invasion of personal privacy and I for one hope that one day the serial offenders get their asses sued for doing it!
My tips for social media etiquette:
Death : Never post about a death until you have complete confirmation that the family are aware of the situation. This means that unless there are already posts on someone’s social media page where people are sharing their condolences you don’t post anything. No I’m sorry, no photos of the deceased person before they died, no photos after they have died (and I cannot believe I even need to spell that out)! Put yourself in the family’s shoes, how would you feel to log into Facebook and be confronted with the news that someone you love has died…
Weddings : You were invited to a wedding not to be the random photographer and share the special day with the world. Unless it is your wedding you have zero right to share the event on social media until such time as the bride and groom have begun sharing their photos. No exceptions.
Engagements/Graduations etc : There is never an exception to the NO rule. Someone just told you they got engaged, that is fantastic. Congratulate them but do not rush to social media to share the news. It’s not yours to share.
Pregnancy/Birth Announcements : Unless it is yours don’t post it! It doesn’t matter who told you they were pregnant it isn’t your place to then broadcast that to the world. What if you post that someone is pregnant and then they go ahead and have a termination for whatever reason…think about the ramifications of your post. Likewise when a baby is born- it is not your place to post the first pics that were sent to you via sms. Not your kid, not your post – end of story.
The golden rule for social media etiquette – IF IT’S NOT YOUR PERSONAL STORY DO NOT POST THE BLOODY THING ANYWHERE!!!!!