IRL Etiquette for Social Media

11 Mar

Social media has become a staple in the lives of most Americans. With the rise of smart-phones it no longer is the domain of the anti-social computer geek and has entered into the realm of everyone – everywhere. There are many benefits that come along with having social media accessible to us all the time but one BIG annoyance that it brings.

One of the biggest complaints that comes from both users of social media and those that live without it is the use of social media in public settings. No one minds when you’re a lonely teen sitting in your bedroom spending hours on end texting but there is a huge amount of hatred towards this behavior coming from an adult that’s at a dinner party. I myself have often had a reaction of annoyance at friends, family and co-workers that sit down to a brunch and pull out their cell phone – it has been so much a distraction that my dinner table actually has a no electronics rule.

Yet for the first time yesterday I experienced the urge to use social media while in the midst of a meeting. It wasn’t that I was chatting away with friends or anything social for that matter. The whole issue was that I was in the middle of a rather sticky deployment of a new site, it was halfway live and there were more bugs than I’d every like to admit showing up. An office lunch meeting was getting started, and while I’m not at all a quiet person, there just wasn’t that much for me to say in this meeting. For the first time it actually felt like I was being more responsible and working more diligently by monitoring and responding to other developers txt messages then by placing all of my attention on the in person meeting I was attending. I had become that person I can’t stand.

This brings about a great question:

What is the most appropriate use of social media in public?

Having been on the otherside (that group of people that would prefer to go back to phones having cords), I totally understand the annoyance that is felt when everyone around you is having one sided conversations or all you hear is the clicking of tiny keyboards. I also now understand the increased productivity that can be achieved by using social media in a smart way. So here are my simple guidelines for social media etiquette.

Put family first – it doesn’t matter how important that text might be if you’re at a family gathering pay attention to your family. If you really need to check in to see your latest tweets then excuse yourself from the table and check your phone in the privacy of the powder room.

Think about what 5minutes gains. Sure you might get notifications every 20seconds about new information via txt but is all of it necessary right now? Even if your in an informal public environment there might be something gained by not grabbing your phone as soon as the alert comes in. Finish your in-person conversation and then check the phone, now you have 5 alerts to respond to all at once instead of being bogged down with one every 20 seconds.

Set your phone to vibrate. Regardless of how often you check your phone or where you check your phone everyone around you will appreciate it if they don’t have to hear your phone ringing all the time. Many smartphones even have different alerts for different types of messages. Let calls be heard by a ring (since we do really want to know if the babysitter is calling us about an emergency) but set txts and other notifications to vibrate or even silent. You’ll still get the messages but no one else will have to hear about it.

That’s it… simple enough, 3 rules that can keep everyone productive and happy.

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2 Responses to “IRL Etiquette for Social Media”

  1. sharisax March 13, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    Love it, Breanna. Do you mind if I use this [or you can edit if you want] as a Guest Post on my blog.
    Very very nice job . . . a great question and a cool personal anecdote!!!

    • breannadrew March 13, 2011 at 5:27 am #

      Shari, that would be great. Let me give it another once over and I’ll send you a revised version.

      Thanks, Bre

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