Columnists Features

Social media etiquette


ALMOST everyone using the internet is linked to one of the social media platforms world over.
Social media has become very popular to extents where some people feel incomplete when they stay without it even for few hours. Some people lead what I refer to as a social media life such that wherever they go, they have to post a notice, take pictures and upload them on some social media platform, some even go to extremes where they upload the food they eat, clothing they wear and worse off the sensitive personal problems such as bedroom issues, for those in marriages, are exposed online. But before we get into today’s topic which is Social media etiquettes, let us understand what social media is in general.
Social media is defined as the way people interact amongst themselves and the manner in which they share, create and exchange information, ideas and other resources in virtual communities and networks.
It can also be defined as a collective of online communications passages committed to public based input, interaction, content sharing as well as collaboration. Examples of social media networks are Facebook, twitter, Google+, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest. The other types of social media and applications and websites dedicated to forums, are microblogging, social networking, social bookmarking, social curation, and wikis. Let’s get to know some basic history of social networking.
As computers started becoming more common 1980s and social media also become more sophisticated with the internet relay chats (IRC), being in use for the first time in the year 1988. It went on gaining popularity through the following year to 1990. It might interest you to know that the first social media site to be recognised was the Six Degrees developed in the year 1997. This type of network enabled users to upload their personal profile and make friends with other users. And by the year 1999, the first blogging sites became popular, making a social media impression we are enjoying today. This is according to the small business trend website. In the early 2000s, websites such as MySpace and LinkedIn also became very prominent while Photobucket and Flickr came on the scene and simplified online photo sharing. Others where YouTube which was introduced in 2005, bringing about a complete new way for people to interconnect to each other across great distances. And in the year 2006, Facebook and Twitter were introduced and became available throughout the world and up to now, these sites remain the most used and popular social networks on the Internet.
Today, there are quite a lot of different social networking sites, and most of them allows cross-posting. My biggest worry and concern is the way we are taking social media. You will agree with me that nowadays, the social media has become a platform for all sorts of things both good and bad. What is disturbing and frustrating in my case are the etiquettes. A lot of social media users lack etiquettes, this makes me sick to a point where I see social media as a communication tool having has a key role in society but again on one hand, I embrace it while on the other I despise it. I accept being part of the social media family due to its efficiency in communicating, the creatively it brings, checking on friends profiles and activities and also as a learning platform. However, I hate it most when people use it as a platform to corrupt other people’s morals, they upload pornography, post insults, send requests to people they hardly know, and tag people without their consent. All these aspects to me boarders on knowing social media etiquettes. What are they?
Etiquettes are said to be some code of polite conduct of which, if we practice them appropriately are less likely to offend or even injure other people’s emotions but rather make them happy. But the question is. Do most people know and understand what classifi es as acceptable social etiquette in the first place? I strongly feel most of us don’t really know what they are.
Below is a little of some of the most important social media etiquettes:
• Try targeting specifi c audience with messages
• Weigh whether your posts contents will offend others? If so, who? Does it matter?
• Whether the content is appropriate for a social portal, or would be best communicated in another way.
• The number of times you post things on each day (More than three can be too much.)
• Is it open for everyone anyone to see your posts?
• If your post is inexplicit and whether others will understand it
• Are you using the platform to gain sympathy or not?
• Are you using it as an emotional dumping ground? If so, why? Isn’t a different platform better for these purposes?
• Use of too many abbreviations in posts are bad
• Whether your post is reactive communication or well thought out
We should try and apply these simple few etiquettes and maybe the social media will be different otherwise, it’s embarrassing to see explicit content and other related things when some of us are even friends with our children, nieces and other people who respect and look up to us in life. That’s it for today!
The author is Zambia Daily Mail Limited Deputy ICT manager, for any reaction, contributions or comments please write to

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