Friday, September 19, 2014

Social Media – Adjusting My Settings

This week I have been mulling over the role social media plays in daily life. I don’t mean the silly quizzes that we all take….even if we don’t admit to taking them. I don’t mean the oddly addicting games…..or the sensationalized fake new stories.  What do I share?  How do I share it?  What do I learn?

This week I had an issue with a local businessman who has very poor customer service and a bad attitude towards customers.  Without listing specifically who or getting into the specifics of why, I posted asking for some recommendations for alternate providers.  Within an hour, I had more than enough recommendations and info.  I’d also called all the alternative service choices.  I posted the costs I’d found in the comments and several other people replied that they were making the switch too.  Without openly trashing the local business, I’d affected a change in my own life, saved money, and helped several more customers find company that will hopefully treat us better and not take for granted that being a local business means that the locals will just blindly stay with you out of loyalty. My post was set so that only Friends could see it….not Friends of Friends.

Later that day, I got a friend request from the local businessman….and it quickly disappeared.  I’m assuming he’d been looking at my FB page to see if I’d posted anything about him.  When he couldn’t get information that way, he had a friend of a friend contact me to ask me what was going on… least I’m assuming that’s what the “random” question out of nowhere was from someone I don’t talk to that much was.  I was just straightforward and factual saying that towards me, the customer service had been poor and that he didn’t seem to appreciate the customers he had very much.  I worked hard to answer truthfully without trashing him to his friend……knowing full well that the mutual friend would be reporting back.

Several weeks ago, I saw a person who had had a bad experience with a local business publicly flame them and trash them.  It is a business that I do business with….and I like and respect the owner.  It was hard to see negative comments about something I support.  But, rather than get into an argument with that person on the negative post, I posted positive comments and a groupon on my own wall, and changed who could see those particular posts to exclude the person who was on a trash and burn mission.  We have mutual friends in common. Several of my FB friends chose to give the local business some new business.  Maybe some left because of the flaming….though I don’t think so.  But, I know some joined because of the positive comments and groupon.

Another thing I saw this week was an ex-spouse post an open letter to the other ex.  It was a train wreck waiting to happen.  The original poster felt that posting it was “fine” because it was about feelings…..which should make it all OK.  The poster had it set so that friends-of-friends could see it.  Friends of mine noted the debate going on when I offered the VERY unpopular onion that it wasn’t an appropriate way to share feelings of this sort.  The original poster…and supporters…. maintained that it was OK to post negative comments that should be private because it was all “feelings.” Inevitably, the other shoe dropped and the other ex got wind of it and responded heavily. The train wreck happened…..with the original poster crying….SEE how I get treated?????

I went through my own VERY traumatic situation with my older child.  During that time period, I kept most if not all of the situation to myself.  I talked to my close friends and my family.  We never sat next to each other at soccer games or school plays…..and we had separate but equal meetings during teacher conference week.  But, we never put the laundry out to air in our community.  Most people always commented and complimented how well we got along.  They never saw the behind doors nasty emails and phone calls.  The custody suit that dragged on.  The lawyers.  The mediators.  I kept to myself that they even had the gall to file for custody (which they lost).

Watching this interaction made me question…..what WOULD I have done had social media available when I went through that with my child.  My sisters tease me that I post too much.  Some days, that is true. But, would I have posted about the deeply private situation and the mess we lived through???  Could I really have walked the talk that I’d just preached to my FB acquaintance????

I spent some time yesterday talking about that with my husband and he reaffirmed for me that…..No….I wouldn’t have posted inflammatory statements and barbs and jibes.  I would have done just what I did…..limit the conversation and the info to a few close friends and keep the private stuff just that…..private.

But, what is private?  How do we adjust our settings….internal and external…to limit what we share? That’s something each person has to figure out and decide Every person makes their own choices and no one setting is right for everyone.

In-person conversations, when meaning and intent are clear, I’ll tell you most anything you’d like to ask about.  In a private email or FB message…..maybe a little less.  It’s too easy for tone to be misread. Also, it’s very easy for someone to use the written words accidentally in a way that you don’t intend them to be used.  On my FB wall…..even less.  I will post about day to day stuff…..but I’m not going to get into the fight I had with my husband last week.  He deserves more from me than that (and no….we didn’t actually have a fight last week.) 

Those are my settings for social media.  I may slip up every now and again, and I will probably always be changing and adjusting them.

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