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Social Media – Tolerance and Tact – Respecting Others Online

Developing tolerance toward people of every race, religion, nationality, etc. and treating others as you would like to be treated yourself is a goal to which most people aspire. Hopefully, we all embrace the importance of this in real life. But what about that slightly gray area — tolerance of the life path, personal choices, and the level of enlightenment of others? How does this play out in terms of Social Media — what unwritten rules influence our interactions?

This hit home with me recently when a new friend posted some strong viewpoints (quite different from my own) on my Facebook wall, thoughts that were outspoken in a confrontational way. She added: “This is how I feel — go ahead and ‘de-friend’ me if you wish!” Now, for those unfamiliar with Facebook, this ability to de-friend removes people from your entire Facebook life so they cannot contact or communicate with you in any way. Their ability to post on your wall is completely derailed.

I was appalled when I first saw this person’s post, and I deleted it. I was not judging her viewpoints and opinions, just at the way she put herself across on my page. It felt like a violation of my personal cyberspace. Having never had the need to de-friend anyone (the very term sounds intolerant and hostile) I chose to send this person a private message and made every effort to be tactful. However, in response to my very low-key message, she again posted something brutally outspoken and uncalled-for right on my wall. I once again removed the posting, but this time did not respond or acknowledge it in any way. I did not de-friend her either.

Now, there do not appear to be any clearly written rules on Social Media about what is proper, and perhaps this justifies the existence of this potent de-friending ability. Posting something that expresses one’s clear viewpoints in a very bold and disrespectful way on somebody else’s profile seems like the equivalent of someone randomly ringing another’s doorbell and trying to convert them to their religion, or trying to sell something that another is absolutely not interested in. Do not engage in this!

What about Twitter “rules of etiquette?” Given the 140 character restriction, perhaps that tends to limit the amount of questionable or discourteous interactions. Of course, there is always the “un-follow” option, which is sort of the equivalent of de-friending someone on Facebook.

Even in supposedly mature and hopefully more enlightened circles, why do some people still try to push their views onto others in a very brash manner? It is so essential to respect others’ points of view as well as their personal choices. We can gently encourage. We can do our best to be understanding of others — but we should not push in an overbearing way. Instead, strive to be tactful. Cultivate this wonderful skill that will serve you well in both business and personal interactions.

We all need to give some advance thought to what we are putting out there for the public (or at least our circle of connections) to view. How do you want to be seen and perceived? How do your postings and tweets reflect your core character? Think about this BEFORE you write something up there for all the world to see.

A practical suggestion is to first write whatever you plan to post in a simple text-editing application. Reread it carefully, making sure that it is what you plan to express, AND that it does not come off as sounding offensive. That means making every attempt to read it with objective eyes. You can copy and paste it into your Facebook wall or your Twitter account. With Twitter, you might have to edit a bit to accommodate the character limit. Even with my iPhone apps, I first go into my little Notepad application and write my posting there, then copy and paste it into the appropriate Social Media app — after I have reviewed it!

Social Media gives us the amazing ability to connect with so many other like-minded individuals. I, for one, appreciate the technological expansiveness of this. It has opened up a new world of kind, compassionate and enlightened connections for me. Yet in general, there have to be some parameters for proper usage and etiquette, or simply for respecting others, even if it is an unwritten code. Keep in mind the concepts of “polite” and “tactful” as you communicate with others across the amazing, interactive web of Social Media — and your network is sure to grow in a remarkably positive way!

I am a Commerce, Computer and Law graduate. I am running my own IT Company since 1993. I like to Read, explore Hindu Sanskruti, Travelling and Riding/Driving.

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