Social uncertainty: What is the social netiquette?

Back in the day it was Ann Landers or Dear Abbey who vetted socially uncertain situations. Just as Mom dutifully made dinner, they made sense out of social norms and protocols appropriate to the time.

In the new social landscape we meet situations lacking precedence or comparison; new situations arise as we connect in new ways. Depending on your social circle you may or may not have peers (most of my IRL friends do not use Social Media beyond Facebook) to ask for opinions. The examples of the socially uncertain situations I have encountered in the last year highlight the merging of the facets of my life into one. I don’t have the right solution to any of them; these are new challenges we face as parents, friends, colleagues, social beings.

1. As a parent:

I have come across some of my daughter’s friends “saying things” on social media that concern me (none related to self-harm or violence). But I don’t know the context in which they say what they do. I recognize that they use social media is very different way than I do.

Do I talk to them directly? Do I talk to their parents? Do I say nothing and just continue to be watchful?

2. As a teacher:

I have observed several former and current students who post pictures of themselves under the influence and/or with alcohol. One former student in particular concerned me, so much so I asked my Twitter network for advice.

Do I contact the former student directly? Do I contact the parent? Should I un-friend them on Facebook so I don’t feel painfully uncomfortable?

3. As a colleague:

I have encountered several situations where one teacher has used another teacher’s work, with no mention or credit.
I have seen several other examples where there is slanderous information posted about a teacher.

Do you tell the offended teacher? Do you confront the offenders? Who do I tell?

4. As a female:

On Facebook I have connected with people from high school and beyond. Although it has been great to see these friends from long ago, it also has its complications. In one instance I had a friend who FB messaged me to ask if I would join him for a weekend in a hotel in Vancouver. Um, well for one I am married and for two, that is just rude. This made my interactions with the group we are both involved with extremely awkward and strained. Moreover it made me vacate Facebook as every time I was on-line, he would start a convo.

Do I call him out in public? Do I ignore him? Do I simply un-friend him and then have others ask me why?

These are the new social uncertainties for me.  I can only imagine how they are for our kids.

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One thought on “Social uncertainty: What is the social netiquette?

  1. Thanks for sharing these examples that come with this communication and interaction online, Carolyn. These kinds of situations can be very heard to work through, decide about, and to “sit right” with.

    I think parents often get the advice to “keep communication lines open” and to be familiar with online spaces, but it isn’t easy to be on top of it all. And kids/teens will want to be under the radar, as with many things at times. They often have expectations of their own as they use online spaces. As teens get older, parents will have new considerations/conversations as their children use online spaces with more people and for different uses.

    Within my family, we have had a number of situations to work through and also confront. Some have been very trying. Some have resulted in “backfire” that we anticipated, but often underestimated. The conversation is often about, “So at point do we step in?”

    In my experience as a moderator for an online community, I see all ages being uncertain about “netiquette”. Many adults are still learning this new “language” and trying to find comfort with participation and being appropriate in these spaces.

    I hope things can be manageable ahead for all. How do we as parents and educators advocate in this area and understand what our responsibilities are and are not? A fine balance 🙂

    Let’s keep talking…

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