Social (Media) Etiquette

The Golden Rules of the Internet

Jenny Rog (She/Her) // Contributor
Jasmin Linton (she/her) // Illustrator

Most people know the idea of social etiquette, which is the behaviour one does in social situations. What many people do not talk about nearly as much is the importance of internet etiquette, and how we should treat it. This concept should be discussed more since there may be differing opinions on how to behave on the internet. 

I’m a consistent user of social media, where I use platforms from streaming on Twitch and catching up with friends through Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. We all have our ways of interacting with each other — my rules and morals may come off as easygoing, but at the same time, protective of my privacy.

Some social media pages, such as Facebook, require you to send a friend request. Instagram however, is a bit different when doing so, depending on your privacy settings. You either have the chance to follow someone if their account isn’t private or accept or decline a follow request if it is private.

When meeting a new friend in person, or meeting someone who will be an acquaintance, what are some of the appropriate protocols when adding them online? Well, as long as you have met the person in the past and roughly know who they are, it isn’t that strange to follow them. Individuals replying to my story aren’t considered weird either. If I decide to post something on the internet, I would likely expect a response from someone else. 

Anyone who follows me on my private social media pages are people I know and roughly trust. Someone looking at my story is perfectly normal, but someone leaving comments the minute I post a story or status may come off as a bit strange; borderline looking like someone with too much time on their hands. With that type of person in mind, here are some things I always try to practice. 

One thing that I will always stand by is not being too descriptive of my private life. Yes, the internet is a great place to create posts and talk to friends, but I have met a lot of people online — both good and bad. The internet can be a dangerous place, considering anyone can access it, as long as they have stable WiFi. It’s incredibly important to remember that anything posted can be looked at regardless of if you have a problem with that or not. I’ve had situations where individuals would not leave me alone, leaving comments or messaging me to the point where it came off as clingy or “thirsty.” 

If you get to the point where you are worried about your privacy or personal space, it’s time to set boundaries and block the individual. I hate confrontation more than anything, but I choose to always follow my gut feeling if something is off. If I feel the person does not respect my personal space or boundaries, blocking them is likely the correct thing to do. I would rather lose a potential friend than sacrifice my peace of mind, having to worry about someone who doesn’t respect my requests. 

At the end of the day, the majority of my social media is set to private to avoid these situations. I have a fair amount of people who know me through Twitch, so I would rather keep my online life and private life completely separate. All in all, we should be careful about what we say, and what we post online. Have fun on the internet, but be sure to stay safe. 

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