Proper Facebook Etiquette

#2049 I can hear in the dark a hoi polli

Sunday 18th November, 2012

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Dear Dr M.

I listened to something of a debate on BBCRadio4’s Moral Maze this week. Did you catch it?… I look forward to your usual commentary and redressing on what ‘social media’ is.By the by, according to your Facebook profile we both know certain people. I hope that you are well.

Professor Burkel, Canterbury

Prof Burkel, Facebook reliably informs me of our mutual connection too. I am well.Thank you. 

So onto what you have asked; what I am really thinking? I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to a certain maze of morality twice this week. Once for an unexpected pleasure alongside a sup of VSOP (how else could one linger long enough on this ‘debate’); and the second time to recall with significant reliable assurance that what I had heard the first time was indeed 1. true and 2. something that I felt I could add commentary to.

Of course I can add commentary, I’m rarely at a loss from words as such incidence like writing, talking at and conversation arise. And regarding BBCRadio4’s debate, it’s not all ‘bad news’; there were some considered replies from new friends who strived to achieve any combative, provocative and engaging live debate.

If nothing else we came away with the resolute answer that social media is ‘social’ and has consequences.

No-one agreed as to what these consequences were, but the more cheering implication was that things were ‘different’ and the need to feel that there is a connection to others might lead us to do ‘naughty things’ through such medium.  This might explain why @BBCRadio4 limited themselves to only one tweet in either broadcast. Perhaps their ‘social media’ work experience staff had gone home by then for their milk and cookies, which is why they were so quiet on the matter. This or shocked by the morality of it all.

When we (and I include myself here), hear about a social media #fail, there is a temptation to take delight in someone’s stupidity.  A relatively ‘harmless’ incident being #waitrosereasons campaign (you want more on this and others, you come to my Lectures at Durham University and join the debate). What might make more sense, if not ‘entertaining’ and interesting listening would be to move away from ‘fanning the easy flames’ of social media ethics, and turn instead to offer a (somewhat tentative) resolution, a guide no less.

And some proper etiquette for the consequences of such medium.

Whilst there might not be any way to quantifiably compare one multinationals social media presence and actions against an individual (yes even non-celebrities use Twitter m’dear), we should be mindful of the codes and conducts that one can and should hold true to. Lest rather nasty, no I mean deliberate incitement,  social media commentary piles up – just follow #DailyMail for more bile.

So Prof, what am I really thinking? I am thinking that there’s a distinct tension between being forced to act, those who are finding it hard (and even inappropriate) to keep up, and others who continue to think that social media is all an act. Don’t worry though, we’re all in the same boat. Except for the Queen who has plebs for this kind of update.

Ps I should fess up and confess that I was invited onto the panel, but was not considered ‘moral enough’ for inclusion in the final broadcast. *sob*

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