February 6, 2011

To Unfriend or not to Unfriend

Unfriending or defriending has often been hailed as one of the major Facebook don’ts. To unfriend/defriend means to remove (delete) a user from a social networking site. It’s dominant use is in conjunction with Facebook. In the interest of full disclosure, I will state that I unfriend Facebook friends regularly. Every couple of months, I go through my friends list and make cuts where I see fit. I keep my friend list right around 300 people. Most, however,  find unfriending to be petty and passive aggressive. I agree that the action can be quite rude when done impulsively and/or for the wrong reasons.

There are however, some general guidelines to follow while using Facebook. A quick Google search of “Facebook Etiquette” will yield several pages of results. YourTango even offers the following video :

The following tips are a compilation of my own opinions.


  • Don’t feel obligated to add everyone who requests to be your friend.
  • By the same token, you don’t have to add everyone you know. Finding your best from kindergarten doesn’t necessitate cyber friendship.
  • If a friend is using Facebook in a way you disagree with (updating too often for example), then try to hide them before completely removing them.
  • Don’t be afraid of the Great Facebook Purge, but be weary of trivial removals.
  • Give yourself a least a day before friending people you’ve just met.


  • Respect requests for photos to be taken down.
  • Tag your friends with caution.
  • Be conscious of taking pictures that may eventually end up on Facebook. If you won’t be proud of the content later, don’t take the picture.
  • Cropping and captioning will improve how your pictures look.
  • There is no need to have repeats of pictures. One is enough.
  • Be courteous and sincere when commenting.
  • Don’t use pictures without permission.


  • Do so with a purpose. There probably isn’t a reason to update more than 3 times a day.
  • Don’t be cryptic or use your statuses as a conduit for passive aggressiveness.
  • Credit quotes and music lyrics.


  • Know and understand your privacy settings.
  • Utilize lists (for coworkers, family members, exes, etc).
  • Don’t comment on a friend’s conversation with a person you don’t know.
  • Limit lengthy photo comment and wall posts conversations.
  • Nobody likes spam. (Games, messages, group requests, etc).
  • Try to avoid profanity/crude jokes on other people’s walls. You never know who might have access.
  • Facebook is a public website. Keep personal information to a minimum.
  • Take conflicts offline. Otherwise the fall-out may be disastrous (or spawn out of control and make you look foolish).

Hopefully this list makes your Facebook experience more enjoyable. And if all else fails, you can always deactivate.

January 30, 2011

Greetings and Salutations

My mother sometimes quips that opinions are like noses – everyone has one. With the growth of the Internet, expressing those opinions has become faster, more efficient and quite ubiquitous. Letting the world know what you think about anything at anytime has surpassed even written form. Youtube, for example, is inundated with rants and raves.

In an age where what you say can quickly be transmitted, the question of how to behave online arises. What rules govern the ways in which we communicate with each other digitally? Certainly with new innovations, it makes sense that new tools are needed to decide what conduct is or isn’t appropriate.

The relatively new and pervasive access to portable electronics has changed the way we interact in ways both profound and mundane. The rules of engagement on just about every level have changed along with this access. Given that, shouldn’t it also cause us to examine how we use them in polite society? –  Candace Karu

This blog will attempt to figure out:
What behavior is acceptable and which is not

How we can maintain our manners within digital mediums

What happens when common courtesy is dismissed

Obviously (as with anything), there will be differing opinions on what constitutes acceptable behavior. It is to be understood then, that this blog will be a subjective account on the matter of manners across digital modes. Any tips provided (unless those explicitly stated as otherwise) are based on my own set of personal beliefs. The intention is not for them to be taken as gospel truth. My hope with this blog is to offer insights on how we can best respect each other not only online but through all digital forms and maintain civility even when the medium may dictate otherwise.

In addition to recent cases of cyberbullying, issues surrounding anonymity/identity and privacy (Tyler Clementi) are also brought into an already complicated equation. Vicious comments that may start out online can be transferred into the real world through text messages and phone calls. On the other hand, the opposite may be true. Disputes begun in the real world may take on a life of their own once introduced to digital mediums. These issues are particularly important to resolve as children are growing up in a world where technology dominates their communication.

I am, of course, not the first person interested in this topic or willing to provide some friendly tips either serious or sarcastic. That others are invested in the motion of maintaining digital decorum is encouraging. Hopefully this blog will just be on addition to an ever growing and changing discussion that we can all be a part of.