Social etiquette versus social networking

Last week, I was out with a couple of my friends when a group of strangers pulled out their cells to start videoing our good time. Now, mind you, I know that the three of us can cause a scene wherever we go (loud voices, hooting and hollering over each other’s jokes, insane good time—you get the picture). I get that. We were living in the moment, free spirited and happy. But when we realized they were taping us, it all came to a jarring halt. We're not celebrities (unless you want to meet our alter-egos). Suddenly, we felt invaded. Yes, our voices were a decibel or two above normal conversation, but I think we felt we were in a bubble of quasi-private celebration.

I realized that you don't have to be a celebrity to have others pry into your personal life. Thank you, YouTube and smartphones. Gone are the days when you could act just a bit carefree (with a dash of reckless) without a video of you going viral without your knowledge or say-so.

And, for that matter, when is it appropriate to post photos of others on Facebook without their permission? Is there no etiquette? No “mother may I?” Not everyone wants to be tagged at every intersection in this free world. Can we just set some boundaries and agree not to overstep them? We are all entitled to our privacy—at least, I thought so.

It occurred to me that some people are a bit reckless since the advent of social networking. People share too much information. “Friends” is an over-used word. It blew my mind when a young woman messaged me on Facebook to ask about an ex. An ex that I purposely cut off all communication with years ago. An ex that was abusive and overall a horrible person.

Her innocent Facebook message hurled me back to those horrible memories. I felt a bit violated. I didn't know this woman, had never met her, and, frankly, had no desire to do so. After brushing off this strange encounter, I hit the teeny “x” and deleted her message. And I made the conscious decision to not look back.

I had another women attempt to Friend me on Facebook. She was my husband's ex-girlfriend. Why in hell's bells would I want to be friends with her? Did it even occur to her that Friending me would be highly inappropriate, considering the fact that my husband is not even her friend?

Please—PLEASE—use your filters. THINK about what you want to accomplish when you decide to post, tag, friend, message, or invite another person on a social network. Does it feel a little awkward? Give yourself a quick trip to “What if?” Land and ask yourself about the consequences. Listen to your inner voice and take your finger off the darn key! Let’s observe some social networking etiquette, and pass the word so I can enjoy my next Girls Night Out without the intrusion of amateur paparazzi.


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