Social Network Etiquette 101: Your guide to what to do

Ever wondered if you could invite someone to your wedding by text? Inform someone about the birth of your child through a Facebook status update?  Kate Hunter guides you through the minefield of social networking do’s and dont’s. She writes:


“It used to be so easy.

If you wanted to chat to your friend, you rang them up. If they didn’t answer, you assumed they were out and called them back later.

Now, if you call them at home and there’s no answer, you try their mobile. No luck? Maybe they are in a meeting and can’t talk. What meeting? Why did you not know about it? There was nothing about a meeting in her status update. So you text her. Fifteen minutes and still no reply! Is she  dead? Or worse, is she  just not talking to you? Thank God for Facebook. You log on and see she commented on the photo of a uni friend neither of you like (or so you thought). But the comment is there – and it was posted only 5 minutes ago! And it’s not the only comment she’s made. There are three. This is banter. And you aren’t included! WTF? Next stop, Twitter. Yes, there she is again, making plans to catch up IRL with someone called @hennypenny to talk about #yogatuesday

Of course in your heart of hearts you know there’s nothing to it. No hidden agenda on your friend’s part and no stalkerish behavior on yours. It’s just that social networking has moved faster than Ita Buttrose can write the etiquette guidelines. We were raised to communicate with one person at a time and now it’s possible to do it with ten. So we are flailing. The issues are endless.

• Is it appropriate to wish your sister happy birthday by SMS? Does the fact that you know it’s your second cousin’s birthday (it’s on Facebook) oblige you to send a card? BF (Before Facebook) you’d never have known it was his birthday but now there’s no escaping it. Does it have to be an actual card or can you send him an e-card?

• If you scan a hilarious picture of your year 9 slumber party, is it bad form to post it on Facebook without letting all the girls in the shot know? It’s not rude or incriminating but maybe not everyone wants a picture of herself in herself in a ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ t-shirt online.

• If you live interstate and are planning a weekend in your hometown, is it unkind to tweet about it, given the likelihood that some of your followers may be old friends who will feel excluded? Meeting Melb BFFs at The Champagne Bucket in 5! Woot!

• Does real life friendship require you to ‘like’ a friend’s blog even if you would rather read the leaflet in the Carefree box? Surely if you ‘like’ it and it’s awful, that will reflect poorly upon you. But if you don’t, your friend’s feelings will be hurt.

Does everyone need to know everything you do? Or given the new world in which we live, do we need to harden up? Ita is clearly not onto it, so it’s up to us. I’ll go first:

SMS: More than 3 text messages on a given topic demands a phone call. Also. If someone texts ‘thanks,’ there is no need to send back, ‘No problem.’ It has to end somewhere.

FACEBOOK. Do not assume that because you are obsessed with Farmville, the Kardashians or seeing Tony Abbott elected as Prime Minister that everyone else is.

TWITTER.  It is not essential to reply to all replies. In fact it is impossible if you have more than 12 followers. So do not send nasty DMs.

If I don’t reply to your reply to my tweet, it means either (a) I missed it (b) I could not match your wit (c) My mind switched off or moved on (d) I didn’t think it was that funny or relevant (which I guess is a little personal, isn’t it?)”

What’s your social network etiquette rule?


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