We live in a digital world filled with handy, on-the-go devices such as personal computers, smart phones and iPads. Because of these devices social media has exploded and given people all over the world an opportunity to meet people they may never have met by conventional means and to explore areas of their lives in the safety of anonymity that they could never explore under the close scrutiny of the people they know in the real world.
So in this bright new world, what are the rules? Where is the etiquette book? Most people's parents taught them how to be polite and engage people in a respectable and inoffensive manner when meeting in the real world and developing relationships. But who sets the guidelines for manners when engaging people on social media sites?
I have recently ventured into this shining new world using an alias so that I can explore and play in my most deviant personality without the persecution of my family and real world friends, or the bad mommy moments that would accompany my kids seeing my behavior so far off the mommy charts. What I have found is that there desperately needs to be an etiquette book. Someone needs to outline the manners for the digital world so people know how to conduct themselves with decency, respect and common online courtesy when getting to know new people in the ever evolving worlds of social media.
Being introduced to social media on sites such as MySpace and Facebook I wasn't aware of the level of inappropriate behavior that is out there because I only connected to people I knew in my real life on those sites. It wasn't until I ventured into uncharted territory with an online game that I began to see that online manners had not been taught to many.
The game had a chat room where you could chat with people all over the world who were playing. Trbl and I played this game together and it was amazing to me that even when people knew that Trbl and I were married they would continue to make suggestive comments to me or about me. Their bad online behavior caused much friction between Trbl and I.
Since walking away from the game, we have discovered Twitter and blogging. I love Twitter, I became quickly addicted. I am a very social person. I will talk to anyone, anywhere. So Twitter is a very natural fit for me. I try hard to apply my real world manners to my tweeting, but it is painfully clear to me that people either don't have any real world manners to apply or toss them out the window when they slip into their online personas.
Through those we follow and those who follow us we have created a circle of friends with similar lives and desires as ours. We spend the better part of every day with these people. We are never more than a button push away from this circle of friends. We share our accomplishments with them, our desires, our experiences, our hurts, our lives and they share all the same with us. We encourage each other, build each other up, laugh when it's funny, cry when it's sad, and advise when it's needed. We have fun with them. We share dirty pictures, fantasies, and sexual experiences. Sometimes we even make plans to meet in the real world and extend our relationships. We learn about these people, we learn their moods, what makes them happy and sad and troubled. We come to know what offends them and what makes them smile. We become friends with them.
As we get to know the people in this circle, interacting with them becomes more comfortable. We use pet names, we flirt and comment on shared naughty pictures. These friends can call me baby or honey, they can say things to me or have naughty thoughts about me without concern of offending. The reason they can do that is because we have come to know them through our tweeted conversations and blogging. We have developed a relationship that makes these things ok.
However there are some who I don't know very well at all, people who don't engage me in conversation throughout the 18 hours a day that I am logged into Twitter but who feel like it is ok to comment on my photos and tweets in any vulgar way they want to or to address me as baby or honey.
To me, that is like being touched inappropriately by a stranger. I am a toucher, a flirt in the real world and online but I wouldn't reach out and caress a stranger's ass in real life or with words on a social network until we have developed a relationship and a level of comfort that makes an intimate touch or pet name ok.
Is it too much to ask for those who want to develop a relationship with me in the digital world to show some manners and get to know me, engage me a little, take some time to discover me a little bit before they mentally fuck me for the whole timeline to see?