Friday, December 7, 2012

The Inappropriate Homeschooler’s 12 Commandments of Social Media Use

Proper Facebook Etiquette…Is There Such a Thing?

I was struck by a thought the other day.  Punky will never live in a world that doesn’t have social media networks, for example facebook.  I, of course, grew up in a world without cable television.  I don’t think I would have ever imagined a world with cell phones as they are today – when I was a teenager cell phones were HUGE and used only by the government and wealthy individuals.  We had a CB radio when we were in the car.  The internet was something so far in the future it would have been like hearing a science fiction story had someone explained what it would be.

Punky will never know a world without cell phones that take pictures and start your laundry (I’m sure that’s coming).  She will never know a world of actual records, let alone 8 track tapes, or one where you can’t DVR your favorite shows.  She will never live in a world without facebook.

Social media is here to stay, that’s a given.  The first generation that got a hold of it were novices at navigating it, and still are to some degree.  Enough time has not yet passed that a culture of responsible social media production and consumption has been created.  Enough time may never pass for that to happen, and not just on facebook. Some people still believe if it’s on the internet it has to be true, after all.

I began to wonder though, since she will be a second generation social media user perhaps some form of acceptable standards, or etiquette, will evolve?  I then thought that just as I don’t leave it up to the village to raise my child, I ought not to leave it up to them to teach her social media etiquette.  It is my responsibility to teach her how to navigate social media in a responsible, safe, and intelligent manner.  We are diligent in teaching her the proper way to browse the internet and will continue to be vigilant in keeping her ‘internet safe’.  But, the day is going to come, probably sooner than I would like, that her social outreach is going to include a facebook account.  In the beginning we will guard over her account, and her, as she begins her social media journey, monitoring all things at all times.  The day will come though when she will be grown-up (enough) to be in charge of her own social media and it is for that day that I must prepare her.

Safety issues, of course, will come first.  Some standards come to mind:  don’t post your address or any other pertinent personal information, don’t ‘check-in’ everywhere so that strangers hacking your account would know where you are, don’t’ agree to meet someone IRL that you do not know, and don’t post unseemly pictures of yourself or your friends.

But there’s more to navigating social media that just safety issues – as has been clearly demonstrated in some of the stories we’ve all read.  Cyber-bullying and getting fired from your job spring to mind immediately.  Yet, there is even more than that.  There’s the navigation of ‘facebook drama’ that can pop up on any given day.  Facebook is High School, all over again, except on steroids.  So, keeping this in mind, I’ve created a list of commandments, or etiquette if you will, for Punky to learn for when the day arrives that she too joins the world of social media and facebook.

The Inappropriate Homeschooler’s 12 Commandments of Social Media Use

·        You shall not post embarrassing pictures of yourself, your family, or your friends.

·        You shall not accept friend requests from anyone you wouldn’t want to invite into your home to socialize with you. 

 ·        You shall respect the rights and privacy of others on facebook and to that end you shall not post what should be personal messages onto friends walls for all to see.

·        You shall not involve yourself in gossip, back-stabbing, or bitch-slap fests with your friends (or enemies) nor will you start the gossip, back-stabbing or bitch-slap fests of your own.  

·        You shall not post frequent and annoyingly stupid, personal statuses.  For example, “I’m now in the bathroom taking a dump.”

·        If you wish to post as your statuses your never-ending complaints of the horrid life you have, set the posts to seen “Only by Me’.  No one else gives a serious shit.  (This is what is known as ‘over-sharing’).

·        If what you are wanting to post is vague with the intent of garnering attention or passive-aggressively pissing someone off….Don’t post it!

·        If you are going to ‘assume’ on facebook, assume that the status or comment has nothing to do with you, is not about you, and is none of your business.  If someone doesn’t have the guts to tell you to your face they have a problem with you, that is their problem.

·        Do not post meaningless ‘Calls to Action”.  Cancer won’t be cured because of what you posted on facebook and gas boycotts never happen.

·        If you do have friends on facebook that you’ve accepted for reasons other than real friendship (for example the Grad Assistant in your college course sends you a request and you don’t want to be rude), set those people to restricted status only.  If you DO NOT do so, then remember that whatever you say on facebook and in your status updates had better be something you would be willing to say to a room full of strangers with your mother standing there.

·        Remember, the day will come when you will have a career.  Don’t let anything you post on facebook screw that up.

·        When the day comes that you are in a relationship with a significant other do not 1) list your relationship status until you are engaged and 2) share the personal details of your relationship.  This is also true of your friends.  Don’t discuss their personal relationship in comments or posts on facebook, even if they do. 

Which leads me to…..

·        Do not be facebook friends with your girlfriends’ significant others unless you were friends with that person before they started a  relationship with your friend.  If you've developed a ‘free standing’, platonic relationship after they got together, ask your friend's permission first.  Boys will come and they will go (or girls if you lean that way) but girlfriends will see you through till the end.


·        One final commandment: until you are out of our house you are required to have your mother as a facebook friend, a friend who can see ALL.  Why?  If you live with us and could bring trouble into our home as a result of your facebook etiquette, then your father and I will continue to have a say, and a pair of eyes, on your facebook happenings.   

This is the commandment above all others – you shall have no facebook friend before me, your mother.  

It is my sincere hope that after you are grown and gone you will want to remain facebook friends with me because by then, I pray, we have become the very best thing a mother and daughter can become……..real friends.

And one final thought, for myself, in how I conduct myself on my

personal facebook page and all the time……………………..

~Mari B.

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