UPDATE: Thanks to you all for your overwhelming support and sharing of this post on Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately, there have been a couple of people who read this post and been concerned that this was a letter written to them specifically. This is *not* the case. It was inspired by a very real exchange with someone on Facebook and the excerpt from my email below is verbatim, but please take this for what it is – an example which highlights how we have different ideas about how best to use social media and how we define what type of conduct is appropriate for members of our own networks.
Dear Ex-Facebook Friend,
You’ve crossed the line. As with all things virtual and social, it’s hard to say exactly where that line is, but I sure do know when someone comes rushing across it.
I use social media for business and for building my network of connections. Granted, I’m more “me” on Twitter and Facebook than I am on LinkedIn, but I do not use social media to share every last detail of my life (which, truth be told, is pretty darn dull).
Online, I very much adhere to the adage “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Even if I feel I’m in the right, using social media to publicly call someone out reflects poorly on me (plus, there’s that whole online-content-living-forever thing), so why would I do that? I really try to focus on the positive and prefer to talking “with” people, rather than “at” them, whether online or in person. Your results may vary, but I find that most people appreciate this. Maybe it’s just me.
It isn’t so much about what you posted to my Facebook wall as much as it is about the fact that you posted it publicly in the first place. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me when someone seems to feel so comfortable judging someone else (about whom they had no real information) and deciding it is appropriate to impart wisdom that the other person (in their estimation) was lacking. I don’t mind that you have opinions about things. Quite the contrary; these opinions, perspectives and experiences are what makes each of us interesting and engaging.
After I responded to your public wall post through a private email, your reply escalated my discomfort and led me to further clarify by adding…
I would never challenge someone in public. I use social media to share news and build relationships with people, not question their motives or decisions. It is not my place to judge others and should I feel I have some input which would be helpful, I would address it privately.
We needn’t agree on how social media is to be used. That is the beauty of it. We can tailor our use to meet our own style and needs. One of the things my connections can count on is the respect to support them online and that I’ll know when to take it offline if I’ve got anything else to offer. I know many agree, but also many who don’t, which is why I’m connected to just the former.
I’m not at all saying that my way is right or better. It’s my way and that’s what matters. It’s my network and it’s up to me to build, nurture, shape and prune my relationships as appropriate. It’s up to me to draw that line where it feels right. I hope you continue to do the same and find what works best for you.
Wishing you great success,