Sunday, September 21, 2014

Repost: Tazi's Corner #39 - Social Media Does Not Excuse Bad Manners Or Other Indiscresions

Dear  Readers,

This week, while perusing the social media sites, I have seen everything from a video of a man in his early twenties singing about how much he loves to smoke pot to a comment from a woman of similar age making threats against those who would “aggravate” her. A little deeper digging showed that each of these people seeks to work in positions of the public trust – police work and as a medical provider. Do you think either of them would stand a chance of getting a job in either field if this information showed up on a pre-employment media search? Do you think either of these people would be proud to hear that their mothers-in-law viewed this information? I can just see it now!

“My, Sparky, I am so proud of you! That chant about how much you love to smoke pot was truly inspiring! Now, about that inheritance I was planning on leaving you…”

“Griselda, with that temper you would make a wonderful match for my son! A mentally and emotionally abusive wife is exactly what he needs!”

Social Media does not make you special. Announcing through your Facebook or Twitter feed that you are in a bad mood so people should just lay-off or look out does not give you the right to address someone with a stream of expletives and then expect them to let it go without apology because, after all, you did warn them on Facebook! Singing about how much you love to smoke pot will not make you immune to drug laws; rather, it will probably expedite your prosecution for possession of a controlled substance! Being a member of any interactive society – in person or online – requires that certain protocols be observed. Among dogs and cats, a certain amount of ass-sniffing is required; among humans the expectations of basic courtesy and abidance of the law are the norm. While, judging by the populations of inmates vs. free citizens, most laws are still being followed, but the rule of common courtesy for all has fallen by the wayside.

Although I have not done any research into the actual topic, I am certain that most humans do not want their butts sniffed. So why would they act like a dog in other ways, barking to show people how tough they really aren’t? It is not the barking dog that you must fear, but the silent, snarling dog that bares its teeth. In a human sense, announcing that you are in a bad mood and telling people off with expletives does nothing but show the world that you are at best a tiny little person, incapable of socializing with others; at worst, mentally unstable. In the animal world, you would be judged a menace to society and “put to sleep”. What would happen in the human world? What would happen, indeed…?

More and more social media is becoming the yardstick by which a person is measured. Your LinkedIn profile is not the only online presence that potential employers can see; they find ways to access a person’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Instagram pages. You may sign a contract insisting that you will obey your employer’s drug-free office policy, but that picture of you smoking a joint speaks louder than your pledge to eschew illegal substances; if you call in sick to work on Monday, make sure that nobody has posted pictures of you partying like a rock star all weekend. Although we do not have much control over what other people post, we do have control over what we post – including the language we choose to use when posting.

Adulthood 101 teaches that this is a bad idea!
Potential employers are not the only ones watching what it posted to social media feeds. Friends, family, future business contacts, loved ones, and people we don’t even realize are watching can see what is posted to our social media sites. Is your site representing you as you would like to be seen? Did you inadvertently tell off your husband's favorite cousin with your blanket "Leave me the $%# alone" status update? Or worse, the sister-in-law you fought with last week?

The errors of youth are commonplace and practically universal, but there was a time before social media when these errors could be buried in the past. Now, with the ever-advancing means of social media, these follies are also being committed by people who are old enough to know better - and are being permanently preserved. Is this what you would like to leave for posterity? Think before you post...and remember your manners. Just because you are posting on a social media site is no excuse for acting like a putz.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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