Social Media is Built on a Rocky Foundation

“Good etiquette is the foundation for success.” If you haven’t heard this before, now that you have it probably “sounds about right” to you. Whether in a professional or social setting, you are more likely to succeed following the social norms set by your peers around you. The social norms social media is built on is not an acceptable social standard.

In days past, online interactions were built around good “netiquette.” Not truly rules or law to wag our fingers at each other with, netiquette can be thought of as guidelines to follow when building a positive experience online. Then the Eternal September happened. More people were gaining access to the internet than could be reasonably go through the paces of learning good netiquette.

Simply, bad manners swept the web. Then social media stepped in.

Built around being able to say what you will in the name of being an “edge lord” or “just saying what people are thinking” in the guise of “free speech” isn’t a strong foundation of good etiquette. Just because you can say it, doesn’t mean where you are in cyberspace (or “meatspace”) is the place to express it. Social media, unlike forums and BBS’s of previous decades, are not organized in to smaller sub categories that can be individually selected by the end user. Social media is more of a social “free-for-all” bucket of anything and everything. This means anything said or done is directed outwards to every last individual on that platform, regardless if you’re using it to chat with friends and family or if you’re using it to espouse your political platform.

Can you really say your what you’ve got on your mind is good etiquette to share with everyone who is “subscribed” to your feed? When you’re online, particularly if you’re doing business online, people are watching you for the business you do, not your political socio-economic opinion on whatever is current in the news. Unless your business is sharing your political socio-economic opinion on whatever is current in the news, in which case you’re a boring individual by all accounts.

Those of us stuck spending time curating out undesired information this is beyond tiresome. Platforms that “learn” your preferences are useless if subscribed to even one individual that tangentally refers to subjects you’re not interested in. Even a momentary mention of My Little Pony in a YouTube video and suddenly you’re inundated with inane content built around My Little Pony.

“Where can we go from here” is a both a difficult and simple thing to answer. Many people have whittled down “the internet” to a handful of massive corporate websites, the remaining pushed the fringes of how things “used to be done.” How things “used to be done” is the answer. Learn Netiquette, and share it with others. Start a blog on your favorite pastime. Find a niché forum to share your passion in. Found a niché forum to share your passion with others on.

It isn’t easy- corporations have made discovering those niché forums more difficult- but in the end you’ll have a much more positive experience online.

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