I, like I’m sure many of you, have embraced and enjoy the way social media allows me to connect with family and friends on a regular basis and feel like I have a small window into their lives and what they are up to. There are many positive aspects to social media and the way we can connect to people and share different things that are going on in our lives with our social “community.” While I see many positives of using social media, one of the negative features that I sometimes see is when people don’t use appropriate social media etiquette. People have different views and opinions about many topics and I find it is sometimes surprising that some people may be polite in person, but when it comes to their reactions and responses on Facebook they are rude and inconsiderate. I’m not speaking of my social network specifically, I am referring to the types of comments and feedback I see on Facebook page posts or online discussion forums.
I find a large majority of the posts I share on a regular basis are pictures of my kids or pictures of life around the farm. Below is an example of the types of images I share online with my social media community.
I enjoy following the lives of many of my friends that are online as well, many of my friends live further away and we don’t get to see them on a super regular basis, so staying connected and watching as their families grow is a great way to stay in touch and keep connected. My day-to-day interactions on social media on my personal accounts (primarily Facebook and Instagram), are generally happy and positive conversations, typically about family, travel and agriculture and leave me with a good feeling after the social interactions.
I also follow a variety of Facebook pages about parenting and children – this is where I am sometimes shocked to see such mean and hurtful comments to other people. I follow these pages to find good ideas for learning activities, recipe ideas and parenting advice and hacks from other parents, going through similar stages in life. When I first joined these networks, I thought it would be a happy and supportive community – to help other Moms like me, when they are looking for an ear to listen or advice, while these communities are generally happy and supportive places – much to my surprise, there are some parents in these groups that can be so mean and cruel when people are asking for advice or input. After following some of these groups for a while, I have found the following posts are always controversial and will make some parents say super inappropriate things, when the parent has only politely asked for advice:
- Car seats – conversations around car seats ALWAYS spark controversy, many parents encourage extended rear-facing and when parents talk about moving their child to a forward-facing car seat or a booster seat there is always someone in the group who feels they are TOTALLY wrong for feeling that way. The same goes for posting pictures of kids in car seats – many parents are VERY quick to point out that harnesses are done up incorrectly or they shouldn’t be wearing a coat or bulky clothes underneath the buckles. While I understand that many of these parents are sharing their opinion based on thinking they are helping a parent to make a safe decision for their child – I think a more appropriate way of getting the message across would be to politely give advice, some people feel like they somehow have the right to be rude and accusatory, when the person was just asking for simple advice and help.
- Discipline / Setting Rules or Boundaries – often in a parenting group a parent will bring up that their child is doing something that is a behaviour they don’t like (for example: hitting, biting, yelling, etc.), they ask for feedback on what they should do and this ALWAYS sparks controversy. Understandably, everyone has different views on how to put limits on children’s behaviours and on how to teach them appropriate and inappropriate behaviours and actions – but again it comes down to having RESPECTFUL conversations with others. I can’t help but wonder – is this behaviour online something you would like to see your child saying or acting like? These parents are obviously looking for help with an issue they are having but don’t need to be the target of mean and cruel words from other parents.
- Sleep questions – sometimes parents will ask questions about changing or improving their child’s sleep habits (whether it is naps or nighttime sleep). This is another topic that many parents feel strongly about, whether they are supporters of gentle sleep coaching methods, co-sleeping or cry-it-out methods, many have a strong opinion that their sleep solution is the BEST solution for everyone. Again, a parent asks a question and is looking for some positive reinforcement or some helpful suggestions – and then some parent decides to share why the specific method they used is the best and only sensible solution.
The three examples of controversial topics on parenting groups are only a small selection of some of the topics that seem to get parents worked up and feisty. I can’t help but wonder, what makes these kind of responses seem like an appropriate way to HELP another parent that is looking for advice? Is this how they act in public? Do they talk to friends, family and other people in their day-to-day life in such inappropriate ways? I personally avoid posting on forums about things that may be controversial, as much as it is nice to get input and feedback, I don’t want to feel like I’m being “attacked” by these other parents and no amount of reasoning with them seems to work or move the conversation back to a positive interaction.
There are many articles online about social media etiquette, outlining some of the things to consider when posting online. I found an article by Grace Bonney, that I liked the tone and message of and she also referenced my same thoughts, “Treat others the way you want to be treated and don’t attack people with pitches.” I would think that this shouldn’t need to be said and should just be the common way people treat others, but it appears some people don’t take this into consideration. Grace also shared a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts, some of my other favourite pieces of advice from her included: comments follow you, be aware the overshare, consider the tone and think before tagging. I think these are all great things to consider when posting on social media.
What are your biggest pet-peeves on social media? What do you consider to be cringe-worthy behaviour on social networking groups? Do you have any other pieces of advice for people participating in online discussion groups or just for general social media use?
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all! Social media etiquette, what is an appropriate way to behave and interact online? Do you think before you post? Check out my latest blog post at: http://bit.ly/2s08igT to see more about social media etiquette.
Social media etiquette – are you careful not to offend people online? Check out my latest blog http://bit.ly/2s08igT #bekind