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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Virtual Manners: Is it Ok to Unfriend, Ignore, Delete, or Untag?

Many in the millennial generation (and probably some Gen-X'ers) may be unfamiliar with the name Emily Post. Baby boomers, on the other hand, grew up with her advice on good manners in any situation. "What would Emily Post do?" was an often-heard response when an individual questioned how he or she should react or communicate in an unfamiliar situation. As old-fashioned as the phrase "good manners" may seem, they are as important today as they were many years ago, and maybe even more so with the increased use of technology for communications.
Even Emily Post (through her family business) recognizes that we communicate, socialize, interact, and conduct our business and social lives differently today because of changes in technology. She has created a social networking presence on her website and social media sites where she Tweets, Facebooks, and blogs about good manners. The website contains a wealth of information on social networking and manners, with the following tagline: "Virtual manners are a must when navigating these networks, however, especially because your interactions may be viewed by others."
One post that is particularly interesting and helpful for business people is titled "Rejecting a Client's "Friend" Request." This is a sticky issue for many who aren't sure how to navigate this issue. So, what would Emily Post do? Her advice is as follows:
Your new client just asked to "friend" you. You prefer not to mix your work and social lives, but you don't want to risk hurting a budding business relationship. Should you turn down her invitation to network?
Yes. It's wise to keep work and play separate. Maintain a profile on a business-oriented site, such as LinkedIn or Biznik, so you can send her a "friend" request. When you do, say, "This is where I stay in touch with work associates. I hope you'll like connecting here."
Emily Post also tells us that it is perfectly acceptable to unfriend, unfollow, or ignore someone that makes you uncomfortable. In her words, it's okay to:
  • Ignore a friend request.
  • Untag yourself from a photo or ask someone to remove a photo of you from their page.
  • Delete a friend’s comment on your page.
  • Unfriend someone whose presence on your page makes you uncomfortable.
  • Ignore quizzes, groups, and widely marketed event requests.
  • Use privacy settings to restrict access to your page
  • Some days it can feel as if our lives have been taken over by social networking, as we all spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs. Every morning, we receive new requests to friend and follow new people and share and like new content. Navigating these requests in a careful and thoughtful way, using "virtual manners," can be difficult, even for the most savvy social networker. In any situation where you question whether you are posting appropriate content or making the right decision in accepting a friend or follow request, ask yourself one question: "What would Emily Post do?" It may save you the trouble of having to unfriend, ignore, delete, or restrict someone or something in the future.

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