New Media, Old Manners

This post is based on some comments I made on another blog recently – dealing with the question of whether using Social media turns us in to rude bumpkins.  Whilst it’s true that the decision to participate or not in all this Tweeting and Facebooking is in our own hands, the amount of general rudeness that this sort of all pervasive social media generates is astonishing.  I appreciate that I come from an older generation who had very different ideas of what behaviours are acceptable, so I hope you’ll pardon me if I appear to be something of a dinosaur!

Here are a  couple of ‘old style’ rules of thumb that I was taught years ago about the etiquette of using technology that I still use today.

  • If you have a visitor, hold the phone calls.  If a call gets through, ask briefly if it’s important, as you have a guest.  Then if it proves not to be important, arrange to call the caller back later.  If you’re responsible for your own calls, let an answering machine take it. 
  • If you are in a conversation on the phone, don’t multi-task and email at the same time.  No matter how good you think you are at multi-tasking, the person on the other end of the phone will know you’re doing something else.
  • If someone asks you for the contact details of a third party, then contact the third party first and ask, or mail that person on behalf of the person asking with THEIR details.  Don’t give the personal details of someone else away without asking.

Social Media users often breach the equivalents of these old style social guidelines.  We Tweet when talking to people, share personal information like locations and photographs of third parties with people who may be total strangers.  We forget that the people we’re WITH are more important than the often relatively anonymous folks in our extended electronic network.  I have to say that I find it strange to be sitting in the pub with people and have half the group tweeting or Facebooking – it’s a habit that I’ve started acquiring a little as well.  I find it equally weird to be in courses or seminars – or presentations – and find people Tweeting – even if they’re encouraged to do so!  I just find it hard to believe that people can be paying attention to what’s being said whilst using social media.

I have to wonder how much of the use of Social Media by some people is akin to the mobile phone using buffoon portrayed by comedia Dom Jolly in which a guy is bustling along holding a gigantic mobile phone and is yelling in to it – it’s an ego-prop rather than a communications tool. 

Do you REALLY need the world and their dog to know you’re arriving at your hotel?  Or is it all about ego?

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