Where’s the Miss Manners of Social Media When We Need Her?

As social media becomes more and more integrated into our daily life, our friends have the privilege of knowing what we’re doing at any given moment, what music we’re listening to, what we’re eating, where we’re eating it at, and exactly what our opinion is on that new Parenthood episode. The issue of over-sharing on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has been discussed over and over in the past few years, but what about how we are supposed to respond to all that over-sharing?

Alex Knapp, a writer for Forbes, brought this subject up recently when he saw on Facebook that one of his office mates was listening to a certain band. He looked the band up and began listening to their music. This is when he found himself in the middle of a social media etiquette predicament.

Should he thank his office mate for introducing him to a new band that he really liked? Would that be creepy? Should he not say anything and continue listening to the same music as she did? Would that be even creepier? What if she didn’t know that what she was sharing on Facebook was “public”? What if she didn’t know she was sharing at all?

Knapp woefully wished for a Miss Manners of the social media world to plague with these questions.

Sharing on Facebook has reached a point where not everything that is posted is voluntary. Outsider apps, such as Spotify and Pinterest, will post what song you’re listening to or what recipe you’ve repinned automatically. While most people are aware of their privacy and sharing settings, not everyone is knowledgeable of the fact that the miniscule details of their lives are being posted on the Internet for “everyone” to see.

(“Everyone” as in their office mate whom they added out of politeness, their crush from high school whom they added so they could browse through his/her wedding photos , their best friend’s brother’s girlfriend whom they added because…heck, they don’t even know why they added her!)

Either way, these are the people who are being updated with details of other people’s lives, a little treat they have at their fingertips thanks to a pretty little thing called social media.

How are we supposed to respond to that? Is it simply accepted that everything that is posted on social media networks is meant for public consumption and, therefore, okay to discuss with family and friends? Or do social norms prevail and real life manners apply?

Miss Manners, where are you when we need you?

View this article on Addison Clark’s blog

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