Doís and Doníts for Social Networking
By Elsa Fluss
As a mother during the current technological boom, you may feel the need to become more involved in online social networks. The variety of social networking opportunities can feel overwhelming to even the most technologically savvy person. Rest assured that you wonít be forgotten by your friends if you decide not to partake in the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/blogging universe. If you already have an online presence, or if youíre thinking about taking the plunge, here are some tips that can help keep you safe and professional online.
DO update your information when it changes. This can be as simple as updating your status on Facebook or Twittering every few days (or more), or as complex as rewriting your ďAbout MeĒ section when you have a life change (a move, a new leadership position, or a new baby).
DONíT join every networking site you come across, even if you have friends there. Itís easiest to update information on just one or two sites, and not every site out there is reputable and will keep your information safe.
DO use nicknames for people and places if youíre wary about personal information getting out. Also, itís a good idea to Google yourself every few months to keep tabs on your online presence.
DONíT post personal information (including pictures) that you donít want the whole world to know. Google is a powerful tool, and you might be surprised at what can turn up. If you want to share pictures of your childrensí bath time, use a secure site that allows only certain people to view them. Better yet, print the pictures out and send them in the mail.
DO share your beliefs and interests in appropriate places, with appropriate language. Your sarcasm wonít necessarily translate through the screen, even if you use emoticons, so be careful what you write. Straightforward, clear writing is more likely to get your point across.
DONíT post links to sites that have questionable or inappropriate content. Itís easy for people who know you primarily through your online presence to make judgments about you from the sites you seem to endorse. If you donít want your pastor, your mother-in-law or your children to see it, you probably shouldnít link to it.
DO take what you read with a grain of salt. Itís possible that your friend wasnít talking about you when she posted that exasperated comment. When in doubt, ask. And remember, nothing beats face-to-face communication when something as precious as a friendship is at stake.
DONíT post when youíre overly tired, angry or otherwise not in control. If you feel the need to write something when youíre in a compromised state of mind, save it and read it over the next day before posting. Once something hits the Internet, itís quite possible that youíll never be able to erase it completely.
Overall, the rules you learn in Sunday school still apply when youíre online. Treat others the way you want to be treated, donít judge others lest you be judged, and if you donít have anything nice to say, donít say anything at all. If you keep these tips in mind, your online experience can be enriching and refreshing ó and itís a great way to connect with people even if you havenít showered in two days.