One of the best parts of blogging is the community of bloggers I have met and gotten to know, many of them closer to me than friends I have known my entire life. We speak daily, we see each other a few times a year, and we provide a support system for one another that is nothing short of the “It Takes a Village” mentality that many of us long for in our physical communities.
But there are downsides to this group, as well, and one of them is the constant electronic contact, which at times crosses lines.
Of course it is every individual’s prerogative to step away from the computer, turn off the Blackberry for the afternoon, unplug and unwind. That isn’t what I’m talking about here. What concerns me is how often people make choices regarding contact that seem counterintuitive to social norms.
If this is Social Media, why do so many people seem to not understand the basic rules of socializing with peers? In the interest of no longer clogging Skype chats or Gtalks with “What do you do when someone….?” messages, I’m just going to break it down right here. These are my lines.
1. Newsletters, Blog Feeds, and Marketing Lists – Oh My!
I met you. We laughed about how often we tweet and we exchanged business cards. Maybe we even emailed once or twice. And then you started a newsletter or updated your blog feed and without my permission you added my address to it. What were you thinking? Did you figure that because I receive a few hundred emails a day I wouldn’t notice? Maybe you just didn’t care in your quest to increase your numbers. Maybe you imported your entire email address book and now everyone from me to your dentist’s office to your mother-in-law suddenly receives your take on the latest baby products or the top celebrity dish.
The fact is that most subscriber services distinctly point out in their terms of service that you may not add subscribers against their will. In fact, if enough of us report you as spam, you can have your newsletter or blog pulled from those feed servers entirely. And if your goal is to increase your numbers to look good for brands, it’s worth pointing out that you have no influence over an audience that you commandeered into receiving your updates. You may as well start back at zero…
2. Facebook Friends
I collect things so I get this…somewhat. For me it was Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, and stuffed animals. My daughter is following in my footsteps for two out of three. But now that I’m an adult, I’ve moved beyond that sort of hoarding and long instead for simplicity. Yes, I try my best to follow back as many of the real people who follow me on Twitter as possible because that is good Twitter etiquette. The entire concept of Twitter is predicated on strangers subscribing to other stranger’s feeds, and I try my best (although I’m about 7,000 followers behind) to reciprocate follows. But Facebook is entirely different. The reason why Mark and his pals called those connecting on Facebook “Friends” instead of followers, stalkers, or strangers-I-don’t-know is because they are precisely that – friends. Now I have used this definition somewhat loosely in deciding which friend requests to accept because anyone from my home town who has found their way to Facebook is now connected. If you were my sorority sister in college, you’re in, even if we didn’t hang out that much then. Same for other high school and college buddies, even if we haven’t kept in touch. But if I look at your account and the only thing I can tell about you is that we have 125 mutual friends, why should I accept your friend request? All that tells me is that you requested to be friends with 125 other strangers who happen to be friends with me. I don’t feel the need to open up personal pictures of my children to people who collect numbers, er, I mean friends.
3. Twitter Direct Messages
Stop. Just stop. I don’t think I have to say more.
4. Emails to “Pick My Brain”
Okay, so I admit completely that I brought this on myself. After all, I’m the one who put the word “resourceful” in the title of my blog and my Twitter name and will even answer to “ResourcefulMom!!!” being yelled across a hotel lobby. With that said, there is a time, a place, and a technique for asking someone for advice. If we’re friends, my goodness, ask me anything, any time. I love to read through pitches for people and even responses from clients and add my two cents. That is part of what is beautiful about this community. However, please do not email me to tell me that you think my business model is a good one and would like to know the following: exactly how I plan Twitter Parties, how to get sponsors, and how do I measure the success of parties. I get an average of two of these emails per week currently, and each one makes me scream a little louder than the last. I have a friend who sometimes gets a heads up that another request for proprietary information has come my way because I email her just this, “Hi Coke, this is Pepsi. I think your drink rocks. Would you mind sending me the formula? Kthxbai” It’s also uncouth to ask me how much money I make, what I charge for X, Y, and Z, and one of my personal favorites, for me to send my excel spreadsheet with client names and contact information because they would like to start hosting reviews. (FYI: I’m not that organized. People give me far too much credit) Some other requests include to win specific prizes for reasons ranging from an upcoming holiday to a family illness, to personally sponsor them to attend a blog conference, and to put a link to their awesome new site on my own site. None of these requests will be honored, so the less often I have to delete emails the better. *CAVEAT* – I will help anyone, any time, anywhere plan a Walt Disney World vacation. Feel free to email me about that early and often.
5. Voting, Farmville, Mafia, Bling, Razzle Dazzle Angry Twitter Birds….BLERGH!
When I am at the computer I am doing one of only several things: working, emailing friends (sadly…there’s rarely time for this), chatting on Twitter or Facebook with friends and co-workers, blogging, planning a Disney vacation. When I am at my computer I am never downloading an app, playing a game, harvesting crops, bedazzling my vajayjay, flying birds, lining up mafia hits, or entering contests. As for the former, when a friend makes a request for a vote, I go and vote. I get it. It’s fun to win stuff. In fact, one of my favorite parts of my job is giving stuff away. What I don’t have time for, however, is a Facebook chat window popping open on my screen with a ginormous link to a contest where I am supposed to go enter my name, email address, SSN, home address, income level, and diagram of any birthmarks in order to help you win a free app for your iPhone. I actually once had a flight attendant stop at my aisle seat where I was happily working having paid $7.99 for the in flight WiFi. Why did he stop? To offer me $20 to “harvest his crops.” Please refer back to point number 3.
While these are the lines that most annoy me when crossed, I’m sure that I have just touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to social media interactions. So now I’m providing you a platform in the comments. What pushes you over the crossed line?