English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton once wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” This may be true then, but he obviously didn’t live long enough to witness the power of the keyboard in social media.
Imagine the billions of people hooked up in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Disqus and the like. With a few keyboard strokes and a click of the mouse, photos, videos and comments are easily uploaded on these sites. Share it with friends and if it is interesting enough, it becomes “viral”.
Careers have been built through the sheer power of social media. Think Justin Bieber and Charise Pempengco—they wouldn’t be household names if it weren’t for the power of the Internet. Yes, social media has done many good things for many people. Lives have been saved, especially during times of national calamities like the Ondoy and Habagat floods. Families have reunited, and many friendships have been rekindled.
But like all good things, social media can be destructive if used irresponsibly. It can hurt. It can spread malicious rumours. It can kill. In the U.S., there was a woman who burned down her friend’s house because her victim “unfriended” her on Facebook. There was also a woman who got fired because she posted on Facebook that her supervisor was stupid. Then, there was that teenage boy who jumped off a bridge to commit suicide because his college roommate posted a video of him being intimate with another man.
Here, we’ve heard of people who have been cyber-bullied. Some have been the unwitting recipient of attacks from haters, while others have brought it upon themselves. Such is the power of social media, which is why some politicians and government officials have tried to pass laws against it with stiff penalties. It is a hotly debated topic and I’m glad that it is one of the main featured topics in the HR Leadership Conference 2013 that we are organizing and holding this February 27 to 28.
Mind Your (Social Media) Manners
Much needs to be ironed out regarding the legalities, penalties and regulations for cyber-bullying. I am not a lawyer so I don’t really want to comment on legal matters relating to the use of social media. However, being a social media user and a business manager, I’d like to share a few tips on proper social media etiquette. I’m hoping that this article will help guide people to use this powerful tool in a positive and productive way.
Social media is not your personal private diary.
From time to time, I see people posting negative thoughts and feelings on Facebook. They write about how bored they are at work and how much they hate it there.
Well, guess what: Social Media (like Facebook) is not your personal private diary. Whatever you post there will be published in your timeline and your friends’ live feeds. I know of a person who seemed quite friendly and pleasant to his co-workers, but he wrote on Facebook about how awful his job and colleagues were. He then changed his mind and deleted his post. Unfortunately, before he did so, his boss already saw and screencaptured his post. How do you think his negative post will increase his chances of a promotion?
If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.
I once had two employees who fought via Facebook. Offline, there was already tension between the two, but their issues got bigger because they used Facebook to rant about each other without naming names. Needless to say, their fight escalated. What would have been a simple issue grew into a monster problem that affected their work and even the morale of their co-workers.
Your boss or HR manager is a
“friend of your friend.
” Facebook has some critical privacy issues that allow other people who are not on your friends list to see your posts through your friends’ post. No matter how careful you are, you can’t really secure everything that you post as private. Even Mark Zuckerberg’s sister encountered problems with this when the family picture that she posted went viral—a friend of a friend saw the photo of Mark Zuckerberg’s family and tweeted it.
Your boss or HR manager may be a friend of your friend. To stay on the safe side—if you are going to post about your work, write positive things. It will help you stay out of trouble.
Having a phone camera or scanner does not entitle you to post your boss’ picture.
Many people forget this simple etiquette. Do not post photos of your boss, colleagues and officemates without their permission...especially if it is compromising, unflattering or not authorized. I once had to reprimand an OJT who scanned and posted the picture of her supervisor’s ID on Facebook without the latter’s permission. Not only was this against the rules, it was very unprofessional, foolish and uncalled for. As a result, the OJT caused a lot of embarrassment and wasted time for her supervisor, the HR department and herself. This isn’t a good way to start a career.
Being anonymous does not give you license to be a hater.
Part of the fun in reading news articles online is that you get to read comments of other people about current news and affairs. It gives me an idea about people’s sentiments and it is interesting to see the diverse opinions and perspectives of others. However, there are some who hide behind anonymous profiles to bash famous people and celebrities. When I say bashing, I mean hurling nasty, below the belt insults that have nothing to do with the topic. Let’s not waste digital space with filthy words and disgusting remarks. Don’t be a hater. Even if you are anonymous, someone can still see you. And you’ll know what you did in cyberspace.
So let’s just all play nice. Mind your manners and spread goodwill in cyberspace with proper etiquette.
Jho anna O. Gan-So is president of Business maker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Since 2003, her company has served more than 20,000 participants from various companies and industries by providing corporate skills training, business and human resource seminars. To know more about the regular seminars and services that they offer, you may visit www.businessmakeracademy. Com. to know more and join the HR club, visit www.hrclubphilippines. com. You may also call (632)6874645. Email your comments and questions to: email@example.com