Watching Your Ps & Qs on Facebook

On Saturday night, I dredged up an old political issue with a friend of mine at a dinner party. There had been a lot of wine flowing, I must confess. It was 1:00am and we were running out of things to say I suppose. So I brought up how back in 1980, when she and I were still living in the South, I was surprised that so many southerners voted against Jimmy Carter and voted for that non-Southerner, Ronald Reagan. “OH MY GOD, I TOLD YOU NEVER TO DISCUSS POLITICS IN PUBLIC,” she yelled at me. Then she passed out.

See what I just did? I violated three rules of social media best practices. I brought up politics, I shared my opinion about a political matter and I bragged about a wild night out. Am I telling the truth? Only I know. It’s all a build up for this:

Every day I open up Facebook and I see friends of mine sharing their political views or their religious views or talking about a wild night out. If a Fan Page I follow posts something about politics or religion, I usually delete them, even if I agree with them. It is just not wise on their part and I don’t want to reward them by continuing to be a fan. You open yourself up for verbal gunfire from people who don’t agree with you, and people who do agree with you probably secretly think “Well yeah, but how dumb are you to talk about this on Facebook.”

When friends get too political on Facebook for my taste, I often hide them: unless that’s their career. I want to hear about what’s going on in people’s lives when I’m on Facebook, not how mad they are at the democrats or the republicans.

What about Freedom of Speech, you might be asking. I love freedom of speech, but it doesn’t always mix with common business sense, and for fan pages, it’s still business, even if you are trying to engage. Facebook is an online virtual networking party. It is not a bachelor party, however, or a night out with the girls. As for personal profiles, the same rules still apply, granted, a little more loosely. Of course, it comes down to who you have as your friends on Facebook. Have you kept out all business contacts, past, present and future? You have, really? Do you know for sure that your Republican pal Suzie might not be in a position at some point to hire you or use your company’s product? And that she’d be willing to do it after you posted, “I wish all Republicans would just get therapy and admit they have aggression issues!”

Yeah. See my point. You never know. So I’ll say it again, because as this article points out, you never know who you will offend online and over what. A bishop was fired for dissing the royal wedding! Anything can happen online. Just take your grandma’s advice (or mine) and “behave yourself when you are in public.” With social media, you may be sitting on your couch in your PJs with your laptop, but you have the attention of an audience just a key stroke away.

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