Four simple rules for a better social media experience

By Oscar Gonzalez, Pulse staff writer

Image of various social media logos, including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Bing and WordPress.
Social media collage courtesy of http://joycerevoir.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/social-media-seo-logos.jpg

Social media lets fans get closer to their favorite celebrities, brings together distant friends and family and helps topple government regimes. This kind of connectivity requires a new set of manners.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms have become part of a daily routine for billions of people across the globe. Just as you would follow social etiquette while interacting with people in your real life, you should also exercise social media etiquette with people in your virtual life. Failing to follow some simple suggestions in your online interactions can have you losing your friends, your job or even your life.

An important rule for social media etiquette is that the Internet never forgets. Ciji Thornton, pro gamer and social media expert, has had many run-ins with fans and detractors via various social media platforms.

“In a matter of seconds, a negative post you instantly regret can be screenshotted and posted all over the Internet for everyone to see. No matter how fast you delete it … it will be seen and talked about,” Thornton said.

In early April, Adam Orth, a game director for Microsoft Game Studios, made some light-hearted comments on his Twitter account regarding the rumors that the next Microsoft game console may require a constant connection to the Internet. It only took a few tweets before several websites reported his comments. Within a week, Orth had resigned from his position.

Another rule to keep in mind is that you are not always anonymous while online. When signing up for a social media account, some people choose a username that is unique to them, and they expect some sort of anonymity when not using their real name. Even a fake name can be traced back to the real person.

A Twitter account with the name of “Bad Lieutenant” was full of offensive tweets that included insults directed toward the mayor of New York City as well as the president of the United States. After some investigative work by the New York Post, it was revealed that New York City Fire Department Lt. Timothy Dluhos was the man behind the account. After his identity was revealed, the 12-year veteran was suspended from his job without pay.

Although a good joke can make a person popular for a moment, another rule to remember is that a bad joke can result in a very humorless situation.

“I made a joke on a post that my friend made on Facebook. They didn’t like it and stopped talking to me for awhile because of it,” said Benjamin Allen, a sophomore Communications major.

Gilbert Gottfried, comedian and voice actor, made two jokes about the earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011 just days after the event occurred. Within days, Gottfried had been fired from his job at the insurance company Aflac as the voice of their mascot, the Aflac duck.

A final rule to think about is to avoid conflict online. It is easier said than done, but a fight over the Internet can lead to a tragedy in real life.

After an argument on Facebook in 2010, Alesha Abernathy from Oakland, Calif., was involved in a high-speed chase with the person she had argued with, Torrie Lynn Emery. As Abernathy tried to escape in her car, she ran a red light that resulted in a fatal car crash. The source of the argument that ended in tragedy was an incarcerated man.

“Most of these people that start fights just want your attention. Many also get an ego boost from it, enjoying that their words were able to get under someone’s skin,” said Carey Martell, YouTube personality and creator of the Martell TV app. “Block people and disengage from them. Stop communicating with them.”

Social media is bringing people closer together, but as we interact with more people than ever before, we also have to remember that this new digital world has its own digital rules. Make sure to be mindful about what you say online before you post because even though you may not realize it, someone is paying attention to what you say.