Should there be proper social media etiquette classes like we have the personal grooming sessions? This question has come to me, time and again as I have seen virtual abuse of social media. Mud slinging, back lashing, snide remarks and sly posts- we think we are free to post whatever we feel like as we think it is our personal space. Is there anything personal on social media? Isn’t the word ‘social’ enough to drive the point home that even if we are ranting that is also something which we are sharing on social media. We cannot say that it is our personal matter. If that is so we should keep it to ourselves and not share it with others. Social media means sharing.

The concern is not about what to share and whether you should share or not. The moot point is how do we behave on social media platforms. Can we abuse someone verbally in person time and again? We won’t, as it requires a lot of thought or preparation or a break point where we just lose our cool. But when it is social media things get easy. We just need to post, we don’t need to face the person. We can liberally use words and phrases to our heart’s content thinking no one can harm us here. But more than anyone harming us we are the ones who do most of the damage to ourselves.

We are an entity on social media and when we try to tarnish someone’s image the maximum damage is done to us. Now isn’t this the reason why we hesitate to confront the person face to face. So what is social media etiquette? It is that tool which would stop us before breathing fume. It wouldn’t be like a set of rules which states do this or that but something like the inhaler which would bring our breath back. We would instantly reach for it in cases of emergencies and it would bring us back to normal.

We have to internalize the rules. Like the mind which says “don’t touch the surface or you will burn your fingers’ and as a reflex action we remove our fingers it would tell us don’t say this, it is going to harm you big time. Can this happen? It can only when we understand social media. When we consider it something like pages of history where the impressions are created and cannot be erased. Social media is not like a street where you just walk away doing anything and don’t return. Social media is like that place where you turn up time and again and leave your footprints whenever you come.  And where you have to come again and again and spend time you don’t want trouble. You would try to steer away from problems in fact. We need the social media etiquette not for others but for ourselves so that we can breathe easy.