mannersIt’s no secret I love social media. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Instagram … if it’s not Pinterest, chances are I’m there.

I have friends who are dear to me that I’ve never met in real life (IRL on the Internet), but talk to regularly and enjoy as much as my IRL friends. I enjoy seeing family photos, baby pictures, pet photos and status updates.

But lately I’ve been asking myself: Where are our manners?

I grew up in a nice southern home, and was taught that there are certain topics we don’t discuss in polite company. Controversial issues, politically-charged discourse, and rude comments that no one would think of making in person end up on social networks, with the author’s name permanently attached. It’s as if we give no thought to whom we offend, make uncomfortable, or hurt with our words.

Why are the rules different online? Why is it ok to be snarky, contentious and argumentative when we would not say these things in person?

Speak your mind, and take a stand on things that matter to you. (After all, no one has to wonder which team I’m cheering for, but I ‘m still crazy about my friends who are Cubs fans.)  Your opinions and passions make you who you are and those who care about you are interested in your views. But sarcastic, veiled, pseudo-clever attacks on others who disagree are no more acceptable online than at an IRL social gathering. Even if I agree with your position, I don’t like your tone. If you’re so hot that you can’t disagree respectfully and without accusation, take some time to cool down before you take to the Interwebs.

Remember that the people we’re connected with on social networks are — people. They’re not numbers on your follower count, but living, breathing humans with feelings and opinions of their own. Before you post your opinionated screed, think of the faces and the hearts behind the screen names and avatars.

Think twice, post once.

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