Social media v social etiquette

By October 24, 2012Uncategorized

Social media is a fantastic way to keep in touch and stay up to date with the latest news but I can’t help but feel we are taking a step backwards in our social etiquette.

With the constant pressure to remain within 140 character (including the link!), and the burden of keeping texts down to one message, even although most of us are either on unlimited text packages, or the incentives by mobile phone providers mean we are hardly ever short of a spare message or two, the formal ‘art’ of conversation is dying.

As a communicator this troubles me. Pushing information in one direction is one thing, but a conversation by definition needs at least two participants. With today’s Generation Z choosing to engage in 20-odd text messages when a 30 second phone-call would suffice, we are in danger of forgetting what it is like to speak to people.

Then there is the issue of interpretation of the one-way communication. For example, there are many ways to read a reply ‘yeah for sure’. It could be taken hugely enthusiastically confirming a willing participant, or it could be a sarcastic response leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. Either way in today’s social stratosphere it is not always clear what the tone of the message is, so the strength of the message and its response can at best be diluted or at worse be taken completely out of context.

Social media will continue to seep into all aspects of our professional and social lives and while we are embracing it and pushing the boundaries and immediacy even further, let’s not forget good social etiquette and the principles of effective communication.


Elaine McKean