Social Media Ettiquette Lessons From Kindergarten

A few days ago, I was talking with my husband about an online injustice that I found particularly disturbing. (What? You guys ARE my social life. Don't judge) An online friend had posted a gorgeous picture. And someone else had taken the photo and put their own watermark across it (and to add insult to injury... was accusing my friend of trying to "steal" her own photo back. It was crazy-weird.)

My kindergartner overheard the conversation and got a bit worked up over it. "But, WHY did they take it if it wasn't theirs??!!" My 5-year-old knows right and wrong because I tell him every day. And his teacher tells him every day. And his friends tell on him if he forgets. He's going to miss that when he gets older. At least, I'm pretty sure he will miss the snacks. So I'm just going to go ahead and print this out and mail it to his future self along with a bag of goldfish crackers.

1. If it's not NICE...don't say it. 
  I know this may come as a bit of a shock, but, I like when people are nice to me. And I like when they say nice things to me. And it makes me feel kind of bad inside when they are mean. And I don't want to play with them anymore. So...don't be mean. Even if other people are mean. Even if you're having a super bad day because your child spilled red fingernail polish on the white leather couch at the doctor's office while you were waiting for 3 jillion hours to be seen by a medical professional that didn't even listen to what you had to say and told you to bring that child back in a week if  "things get worse." Even on those days...don't make someone else sad.

 2. If it's not YOURS... don't take it.
  Do your own work. Don't use the ol' "copy and paste" option on someone else's posts. Don't take their brilliant idea and pretend that it is yours. Take your own pictures or get actual permission to use a picture someone else has taken. Send an email or a message or purchase a copyright license to use it. A picture without a watermark is NOT an invitation to steal it for yourself and put your own name on it.You wouldn't (at least you shouldn't) go into someone's home and take their couch just because they didn't etch their name into the back of it.

 (While we are on this subject... let me just say that every single one of you are welcome to copy any of the cookie designs on my blog to make your own cookies. Permission granted.)

 3. Say "Please." Say "Thank-you."
 Flattery will get you everywhere. Or at least, it will get you cookies at my house. (What? I look fantastic? Sure, you can have another cookie... or three.) If you need or want something, you are much more likely to get it if you use the "please" word. And if you ever hope to communicate with that person again...saying "thank-you" will go a long way. People love to be appreciated. It makes them happy. It makes me happy. And as we have already established...I like to be happy.

A few months ago, a very sweet and talented lady started a blog and the very first comment on her second post looked like this --

"where's the recipe????"

I am not kidding you. Just like that. With all those question marks. Let me put it in perspective -- she isn't even a food blogger, she was demonstrating a technique.

4. Read the directions.
 And to make it even worse...she HAD posted the recipe. Give the post or message a quick look to see if your question is answered. Don't CLICK HERE without reading where it will take you. (In this case that link will take you to the new quatrefoil cutter from Copper Gifts that I used for these cookies. It's totally legit.) Also, on Facebook, when you see your brother's name and a picture of a doesn't necessarily mean that he is in the picture, or that it is even his picture. Read the words. Because maybe your brother's best friend just got engaged there and your brother "liked" it so it is showing up in your feed and if you assume your brother posted the picture and you leave some comment with an inside joke about the summer you both worked on the farm... things are going to get pretty awkward for everyone real fast.

(And on a personal note -- I love to answer your questions. If you ask it nicely, I'll answer it a hundred times even if the answer is a glance away.)

5. Check your work.
Before you hit "send" or "publish," take half a second and read what you just typed. Is it nice? Is it accurate? Did you use real words? Would you be embarrassed if your mother saw it?

6. Praise in public and correct in private. 
Even with all that checking...we all make mistakes. Maybe you spelled some words wrong. Maybe someone saved your gorgeous picture on their hard drive to use an inspiration and then named their own picture something very similar and accidentally uploaded YOUR picture instead of THEIR picture and it's an honest-to-goodness mistake. (It could happen.) If you feel someone has made a mistake, send them a private message or email. Give them a chance to correct their mistakes without embarrassment.

7. Don't whine. 
 Everyone has bad days. Sometimes you even have the worst day that could have ever possibly happened. Times 12. But not every day is that day. Please don't complain over and over again. Okay, look, I'm just going to put this out there -- If your product is misery, you are going to have very few customers. I'm not saying the world needs to be made of cotton candy and rainbows. (Although, the cotton candy would be nice. I love that stuff.) If you're having a hard time, definitely let it out among people you trust and mutually care about. But if people start asking you to autograph the dictionary page containing the word querulous, please skip directly to #10.

8. Don't steal friends.
I get it. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants to be popular and successful. I am not ashamed to admit it. (Please love me.) But you need to make your own friends. Don't use the comment section of successful blogs or the walls of popular Facebook pages to promote yourself, your page, your blog or your business. Go ahead and post AS your page. Comment AS your blog. But please -- if you remember nothing else -- don't tell me I have to "like" your page because you liked mine. I am headstrong. And I will not listen to you. And also, I will be a tiny bit annoyed.

9. SHARE (With permission.)
Okay, so now that I've told you that you need to come up with your own stuff and make your own friends...let's talk about sharing. Sharing with permission is a GOOD THING. Remember? Everyone wants to be loved. When sharing on Facebook, go ahead and use the "share" button so it links directly back to them. OR... link back to them by typing "@" before the name of their page. If you are sharing someone's idea or product or fantastic solution to end world hunger on your blog, link back to the original source and make sure to get permission if using their photo. And...just to be clear... Pinterest is not an original source.

10. At the end of the day... GO HOME.
Social media is an excellent tool. It needs to stay a tool and not become your life. As amazing as I want you to think that I am...I will never be more amazing than your family or the other people in your "real" life. Talk to them. Be with them. Love them more than Facebook and blogs and Instagram and whatever else they think up next.

(It's okay if you think I'm a little bit amazing though, okay? I don't mind that.)

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