Gythio, Guatemala, and Gabon: Are There Do's and Dont's Of Social Media?

Today I came across a blog called "Facebook Etiquette 101." Upon reading, I immediately flashed back to people on the travel road dispensing blanket advice without understanding that there are many different journeys going on around us. Not everyone's rules or advice may be useful in every situation.

In my exploration into SM, I find many blog entries that call themselves things like "Facebook Etiquette 101", the do's and dont's of twitter and so on, all trying to lay down the rules of use in SM. While I agree with some of their "rules" which are really just ideas, experience, and I would think...common sense, it still seems like these rule-givers are wasting time trying to nail jello to the wall. Many people use social media for different purposes and no single reason can be quantified as the right one.

I met many people on the travel road who dispensed their expertise in the same way some bloggers do, not taking into account that there is more than one way to follow your path. Some information was useful and other advice I took with a grain of salt, much like reading blogger points of view. But in the beginning of any journey, whether it be through an unfamiliar country, or into an unknown medium, opinions can stifle creativity if you are unsure of what you are doing. I think it's good for the novice (me) to be wary of taking rules and advice as law. And I think it's important for the so-called expert to look at the bigger picture before stating that there is a definitive list to follow when embarking on a journey into the unknown.

On my second long trip abroad I was in a small Greek coastal fishing village called Gythio where I met a wonderful Canadian couple that I traveled with for a week or two. I wanted to venture to Africa but they kept emphasizing the dangers telling me horror stories of thievery, malaria and the difficulty I would encounter as a woman traveling alone. I allowed them to scare me into a different direction. Though this was my choice, by listening to all the dont's, I allowed someones opinions to play on my insecurities as a novice traveler and derail my plans for Africa.

While I agree with some points made in "Facebook Etiquette 101," for instance I, like the writer, used to be annoyed by surveys and games like mafia. That doesn't mean he's right to say people shouldn't use these features. I try to remind myself that one person's trash is an others treasure. Just because I don't want to know what Disney character I most resemble, or who my hot famous lover should be, doesn't mean others shouldn't have the right to possibly compromise their personal information to phishing scams in order to find out for themselves. What I have discovered I can do, since Firefox is my preferred browser, is to download the add on for Greasemonkey and then use FB Purity to suppress the quizzes and games. A few easy steps and there's no longer a need to create rules for others on SM just because I'm not interested.

This author also has a different definition of personal information than I do. He didn't want to hear details too personal about other people's lives. Though I don't want to hear that someone is on their fourth trip to the bathroom, I don't mind hearing them lament about their divorce... as long as it's not the only thing they ever comment on. Other's may have a different idea of what kinds of things they don't want to read by their don't read them. Many of the author's points seem to subjectively limit people because they don't use this medium the way he wants.

Years after my encounter with the Canadian couple I vividly remember an instance in a Guatemalan cafe where an American I was traveling with, we'll call him "Joe," got under my skin with his absolute statements and advice. We were sipping cafe con leche talking with 2 Dutch girls about their upcoming trip to the USA. Joe fancied himself a savvy shoestring traveler after an 8 week train-trip through 15 European cities, sleeping in train stations, eating bread, and spending as little as possible. Since, at that point, I'd spent cumulatively 2 years traveling 12 countries, we had very different perspectives on travel.

As we talked to the two girls he gave very authoritative statements of, "don't go there, don't go here, you have to do this, you have to do that." I was so aggravated because I instantly remembered the nice people, with their good intentions, scaring me away from going to Africa. Though he wasn't scaring them, he was telling them where they absolutely had to go. I was annoyed because he didn't even know who they were or what they were interested in so what made him an expert on what they should see? I guess that's why I prickle a bit when I read one opinion telling everyone else to use SM only the way they would.

Both in your social media use and travel advice, I think it's more about making suggestions not telling people what to do or trying to lock others into a set of parameters. We always have a choice when people are using SM in a way that annoys us. We can un-follow, un-friend or ignore, but we are truly the only one's we have control over regardless of how others choose to express themselves.

In general my only suggestion in SM is to take a look at what you are doing and ask yourself if you'd want to read, follow, or friend the person writing it, if the answer is no maybe you should go back to the drawing board. If the answer is yes, then anyone who's not on the same wave length doesn't need to be part of you SM community.

In travel I tried hard to give people a rounded view and remind them that if they ask for my opinion that's all they are getting and it isn't the be all end all way to do things. I think it's exactly the same with Social Media and any 101 course.

I'll leave the rules and the do's and dont's to others.

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