Is Social Media Teaching Bad Habits?

photo credit: jinterwas via photopin cc

photo credit: jinterwas via photopin cc

Social Media is a wonderful thing.  It provides easy access to communities of people with common denominators – such as philosophy or opinions – or shared interests, be it business or personal.  It makes it easy to stay abreast of news, be it international, national, local or even within your personal network of colleagues, friends, family or intimates.

We can be constantly connected at any time and pretty much any place.

Social media provides us with information, offers, promotions, incentives conversations, opportunities, peers and companionship.

However, for every industrial and/or technological advance there is an impact on society and the individual. Sometimes, there is a downside.

Shorter Attention Spans

Given the increasing and competing demands for our attention, is it surprising that our attention span is becoming shorter and shorter?

There are people who only read the first line of your e-mail. I discovered a colleague of mine who did this regularly. I won’t discuss how, it borders on mean, but I was tired of the misunderstandings and lack of input, follow-up, response, appropriate action/reaction to my missives.

I do my best to keep my e-mails, for that matter my texts or any other communication short and to the point. However if I’ve taken the trouble to reach out it would only be decent of you to read or listen to the whole message. Oh, and respond appropriately.

Objectionable Short Cuts

The traditionalist in me finds the gratuitous use of text message shorthand annoying and lazy. I object to dropping letters out of words unless absolutely necessary. I have done so to conform to the 140-character limit of Twitter, but I find it annoying when it spills over to text, e-mails and even regular texts in school, in business and in public communication.

While I am amused at some of the clever chat acronyms, I cannot accept poor writing including misspelling, poor punctuation, or the appearance of homophones (there and their) or Malaprop (pique versus peak).

It is unacceptable NOT to use Spellcheck before sending any written communication out to anyone.

However, you cannot abdicate all responsibility for checking your text to this essential tool, you must still proofread your writing to ensure you have not accepted a word that is inappropriate to your message.

Spellcheck corrects spelling mistakes, but doesn’t understand context and may supply a word that could make you look, well…not so intelligent.

And auto-correct on smartphones is even more sinister! Take time to reread your message before you hit send.

Bordering on Rude

Sending out e-mails with no salutation (greeting) or signature is wrong, impolite and disrespectful.

Not dealing with personal things in person such as breaking up via text or letting your family find out you’re getting a divorce on Facebook – is inconsiderate, hurtful and conveys a total lack of esteem for these people.

Avoidance is a serious issue. Not responding to communication in a timely manner, or, neglecting to at least acknowledge the receipt of a message is downright rude.

It is also bad form when a conversation is not ended with some sort of sign it’s over or you’re moving on to something else. Taking a minute to type “catch you later, “have to go”, or “have a great day” means I’m not going to wonder if you forgot about me as I’m left staring at my phone.

Lack of Mindfulness

It’s really easy to postpone or dismiss things with social media. Messages can be read and/or answered later – and sometimes don’t get answered, or read, at all. I may receive something that is not a priority for me, but it may be a real emergency for you.

Inattention is a bi-product of our focus on Social Media. People don’t pay attention to conversations they are having; to events taking place around them; to traffic; work; friends and loved ones.

We may be putting ourselves in danger not only physically – because we are not fully aware of what is happening around us, but in danger of having and maintaining anything but the most superficial of relationships.

If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.Franklin D. Roosevelt

Good manners are the oil that lubricates social interaction. And the (little) extra time and effort it takes to be polite is worth it!

Originally published on July 9, 2013 on mononews.