Manners for Social Media


When I was growing up in Georgia most all the properly-raised girls studied under Miss Mable Bailey, who ran a modeling and charm program because apparently models, as Tyra Banks and Iman have proven, aren’t born sweet. They have to work at being congenial, something I understand all too well.

My girlfriend Sara’s sister Beth studied under Miss Mable Bailey. Sara may have as well, but when Mama tried to send me, I pitched a hissy & conniption fit, most unpleasant for everyone. I  can’t tell you exactly why I was so opposed to learning the finer arts of being sweet, except that somehow I knew deep down inside of me that learning to be charming was going to be an uphill battle, and I wasn’t a proponent of the draft.

Go ahead and confess if you did attend Mable Bailey’s. Feel free to leave a story or two of your own. I’d be interested in knowing how Mable got that hair piled so high on her head. In fact, I think Mable needs a Facebook page all her own. Only now instead of teaching girls how to sit with their legs crossed at the ankles, I think Mable ought to be teaching people the proper way to use Social Media.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot because some of you out there really haven’t a clue what is and isn’t appropriate for sharing. And I say that as a woman who really has very few filters but there are things that even I know better than to post.

This is an incomplete list, feel free to add to it your own bugaboos:

– Never post photos in various states of undress, and it doesn’t matter a whit whether you are young or old, fit or fat. Do not under any circumstances post photos of your MacDaddy or MacMuffin. That’s just wrong, people. Before you post up, cover up.

– Do not post photos of anyone else in various stages of undress either. That’s an invasion of privacy, something I realize few people cherish anymore but still you must seek to be respectful.

– When you are in the midst of a breakup or a breakdown, do not post the bloody details. Call up your girlfriend, your mama, your daddy, your priest, or go next-door and cry on the neighbor’s shoulder, the way people used to do when they had real social lives and not one orchestrated online.

– Do not post photos of your foot fungus, your canker sores, or your mammogram. It is okay, however, to post photos of the ultrasound of the precious one growing. We all love babies, and even if we don’t we would never be so rude as to tell you that. Mable would not approve of rudeness.

– Do not post photos that involve blood or body fluids of any sort. Body fluids are a private matter. Keep it that way.

– Do not post anything when you are not perfectly sober. And if you are going to post offensive things when you are perfectly sober don’t let on like you were. Best to feign ignorance than to admit to stupidity. 

– If you are going to employ profanity, do so sparingly, although I am quiet sure that Mable Bailey would consider it vulgar anytime.  Try and keep your vulgarities to yourself. It’s really unbecoming of a person, male or female. And while you may think telling others to F*** themselves is entirely appropriate, I can ensure you that future employers won’t see it that way.

– Keep your online rants to a minimum lest others question whether you are a good candidate for anger management therapy.

– Avoid the pithy political post. Thoughtful discourse is a welcome relief but sloganizing complex issues is hardly helpful and never serves to sway voters.

– Never. Not under any circumstances. Ever. Post anything negative about your current job, lest you have a burning desire to join the ranks of the unemployed.

– Employ humor whenever possible, as long as it’s in good taste. Most of us don’t laugh enough. Please feel free to share the hilarious things of life with us.

And to that end, I’m sharing a clip with you that made me laugh. I hope you enjoy it.

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  • ladydiole

    So true re: Social Media. BTW, I loved the video clip. When I was in Army boot camp in Annistion, AL, in the late 70’s, I went to church on a weekend pass with three of my friends who were black, to an all black church in the SOUTH. In addition to inspirational, it was a cultural experience I will never forget!! Even though I am part hillbilly, I may as well have been in a foreign country as far as the language barrier, but I sure enjoyed it.

  • AFRoger

    E-mail by now is way down the food chain from social media; but if the latter require manners of us, the former requires wisdom and judgment. To wit, all of those forwarded outrages that seem to originate at a single source or mindset. They have in common, in my experience, the following features:
    1) Boldface type, often in italics, upper case and/or underlined.
    2) Text in bright red, blue, purple. Rarely green which is too tranquil.
    3) Double and triple spaced.
    4) Anonymous author and outrageous claims.
    5) No attributions or sources for data.
    6) Broad brush claims about what sincere Americans and/or true believers think and will do with this information. And what God will do if we don’t.
    7) Some kind of claim at the end that if you don’t promptly forward this to ten people or everyone in your address book you are a __________ and judgment awaits.
    Just got one today claiming that “In God We Trust” had been taken off the new dollar coin. Fifteen minutes later I got a followup from the sender who was at least the third generation forwarder. Ooops! Seems In God We Trust is on the edge of the coin. As Emily Litella used to say, “……nevermind!”
    But how many people forwarded the bogus original message which only enflamed their already boiling outrage against the president and anyone who may vote for him? And how many people then went on to forward the disclaimer? How many hours could have been spent doing something positive?
    And if substantial portions of the electorate still believe Iraq had/has WMD and that Mitt Romney had more to do with taking out Bin Laden than President Obama, well, truth and fiction have lost all distinction. But we’ll forward it anyway.