Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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Who you’re talking to: etiquette on social networks

People rely on established social conduct, what’s been referred to as manners and etiquette, but often considered mutual respect, to navigate social situations such as moving from the country to a large city. Social networks can and should be considered comparable for those in their 30s and 40s, but the population is larger than any one city. Facebook currently has an estimated 2.23 billion monthly active users and 1.15 billion active daily users. Younger people ages 14-24 make up the majority of social network users, during the critical time of life when understandings about connection to the world and community are formed. A whole generation of children are immediately following them, often engaged in different kinds games that are designed to connect to online game networks and communication happens via chat window.

Older members of the community also use these networks to connect to relatives, and those with similar interests. Discussions about cultural revival are taking place between generations and guidance on topics such as language preservation are happening more quickly than they have been able to in the past, saving costs previously allocated for printing shared materials and travelling to schools and meetings. World views, challenges and survival stories can be shared, and through this means of communication support can be found for any age group.

Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn are other social networks accessed daily by users world wide, for entertainment, connection and information, and for some increasing their opportunity to find work that they care about. Yet this is all detached from day-to-day reality, people are only partially represented on these networks, and only partially identifiable. On one hand it is a chance to transcend boundaries of circumstance and create new opportunities, on the other hand people are presented with the regular challenge of just how to connect, choosing what to say, what conversations to weigh in on, what posts to share, and how to react to troubling posts.

Etiquette is a French term for mutually relied on behaviors that came into use over 2000 years ago, Lakota cultural values have been here even longer. Etiquette has evolved over time, taking into account differences between cultures and places in order to ensure the survival of different societies. A combination of values and etiquette can be used by any and everyone to continue benefiting from this accessible form of connection, despite new standards being allowed on an influential scale.

It is impossible to ignore the standards of etiquette being demonstrated by the current 45th American president, who breaks long-held social codes of conduct daily on Twitter to which Republicans remain silent, enabling the messages he puts out to continue unabated. That is no reason to embody the habits of a self-proclaimed “winner” out of fear or frustration, but instead recognize what is socially, morally and ethically wrong in his manner of addressing issues of race, sexuality, culture, and critical aspects of society world-wide. At the same time being aware that because he continues and bystanders allow it dangerous patterns of thinking are growing, fears are inflamed and communities like ours are presented with greater risks as time goes on. It is critical maybe more than ever to turn to cultural methods of interaction to be stronger together.



Teenagers and young adults report leaving Facebook because they don’t want their parents tracking their day-to-day activities and weighing in on their lives via commentary or viewing posts. They also don’t want a kept record of their communications of their friend group or those they trust. Remaining open for in-person or direct online communication whenever they are ready, letting them know that they have trusted relatives to turn to is a way to show respect. When they are 12-16 years old they do not likely have the tools needed to protect themselves from unwanted advances, or even be able to recognize the signs of untrustworthy behavior. One way to create the time for tangible connection and support is to have regular family time together, for meals or other activities and maintain a “no phone, tablet or computer” policy during these times. Encourage conversation about what is happening, what is being learned, and whether or not troubling connections have happened. Conversations like these can prevent family members from reacting to something they see or read in damaging ways, like “blasting” all the pain that they’re feeling directly at someone with a lot of bystanders bearing witness to it and potentially creating further conflicts.



One guiding principle is to consider what you would actually say to another person face-to-face. This is a good way to avoid unintended consequences such as negative backlash that can reach others who would not normally be involved in personal or one-on-one matters.

People globally use the network to stay connected, according to Facebook statistics there is only 3.57 degrees of separation between each user on the entire network. This means that anyone has the potential to reach far more people with an individual post than people might anticipate. We are no longer in a world where we know exactly who we are talking to, or who is talking about us and how we are being perceived. Studies show that users consider only 28% of their Facebook friend group close friends. We have little idea how the other 72% of our connections may react to information, statements, status updates, and photos that we might post, no matter our intent.

Interacting on social networks is an expansive subject to think about, to discuss among trusted family and friends, and to continue engaging in. This initial look at relying on cultural values and systems of social protocol is a way to begin addressing growing concerns including cyberbullying, individual health concerns and ways that members of our community are seeking support among those with a shared world-view.