Social Media — A blessing and a curse.

I want to take a minute and talk about a topic I care a lot about. Social media civility. Is it a reality or a dream? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is something we can teach by example, and if we are to survive as a thriving society we must learn to practice civil discourse. Social media is a blessing and a curse. This Facebook group is proof of the benefits of social media. It brings together amazing women from all over the world who refuse to be invisible, sit on the sidelines, and get old quietly. No way. Instead, we are standing up ready to take on the challenges of growing older by taking better care of ourselves, dressing more stylishly, and sharing our successes with our “style sisters.” As a community, we each grow stronger. Then, we take our individual strength and share it with those around us.

But there are inherent risks associated with social media, too. Confidentiality, it turns out, is not guaranteed to anyone who participates. There is bullying and a degradation of conversational language skills as a result of tweeting and texting. You can be easily deceived and misled by social media. So many dangers…

Even in our modest community I have had to deal with horrific fights and hurt feelings between members. It usually starts very innocently. With one person being honest (or so she says) with her style opinion, and it ends up in angry banter and ugliness. How does that happen? I can’t imagine this happening between friends who are in the same room. We just don’t do that. We practice conversational etiquette when speaking to someone in person.

We need to practice conversational etiquette on social media, too!

Here’s an example. I used to teach classes for UC Davis. One course I developed was called “5 Ways To Balance Your Professional Image and Career Without a Glitch.” I talked about professional image (how to dress at work), social media behavior, gossip, communication skills, and we did a lot of role playing. One of the exercises was to build a list of Social Media Best Practices and Worst Mistakes. I had them work as a group to identify the lists. Here is one group’s list of best practices and biggest mistakes:

10 Social Media Best Practices
  1. Think twice before posting
  2. Understand the purpose and intent of your posts and comments
  3. Understand and properly set your privacy settings
  4. Let people know your social media boundaries
  5. Know the line and don’t cross it — if you screw up, apologize and move on
  6. Respect confidentiality
  7. Stay away from politics and religion (it’s a lose-lose)
  8. Don’t offer advice when it isn’t requested
  9. Don’t drink or be “altered” and post
  10. Google yourself to know what has been posted about you
10 Social Media Biggest Mistakes
  1. Venting on social media sites
  2. Expecting privacy
  3. Misrepresenting the facts
  4. Not managing your friends list
  5. Getting too personal (most aren’t really your friends)
  6. Posting inappropriate things about other people
  7. Using private messaging to gossip
  8. Not understanding the magnitude and the reach of social media
  9. Saying hurtful things and then denying it
  10. Posting while drunk or “altered”

What do you think about these lists? Pretty accurate? Do you have anything to add to the lists? If so, please comment below!!

For the most part, our style group is outstanding when it comes to supportive, helpful, and instructive dialog. I am blown away most of the time how polite, helpful, insightful, and nurturing everyone is. Then, someone posts a picture of the U.S. First Lady, and the whole place explodes!! I believe that deep down we all want and deserve to be listened to and understood. My hope is that you will remember to use your best social etiquette skills next time someone rubs you the wrong way. Polite conversation and decorum is a treasured norm that the world once valued. Let’s be role models for how to foster civil discourse, respectful listening and exchange of ideas, and polite conversation.

Thoughts? Comments? Please share your ideas below in the Comments Section.

Our Most Impactful Posts Last Month

May to June is the ushering in of warm, sultry weather and wearing lightweight cotton, linen, and silk. We’re baring our arms and legs, wearing more loose-fitting dresses and wide-legged cropped pants, and talking about getting in shape. Here are some FUN FACTS about our group:

** We had 934 posts between May 17 – June 13

** The number of posts are down 19% from last month — come on ladies!!!

** We have 9,141 Active Members, which is high for a group of this size, but down from the active members last month (summertime plans????)

** This chart shows posts with the most hits in the previous 4 weeks. You ladies love to weigh in with your favorite outfit, talk about the royal wedding, ask for hair color opinions, and cheer on Beverley Woodworth’s before and after photo. I love it!!!