Discretion is the better part of Twitter


So if you were to ask 793 of your closest Facebook friends and a further 2000 that are called “friends” (that actually are nothing of the kind) what they think of the Captain Morgan tattoo you’re thinking about getting in the fold of your left knee; you are going to get a very different opinion from them than if you actually sat down with each of them privately and asked them.
That’s the nature of the Social Media beast.
You need the opinions of those who will not be prepared to give their opinion in front of all your friends. That is because they already know what I am about to tell you.
So even if they are your “friends”, they’re not likely to tell you on Twitter or Facebook what you actually need to hear.
Are you with me so far?

I love Social Media but it should come with a warning: Discretion not included!
Discretion, my friends, is a sorely missing button on Twitter, and a sadly lacking smiley in Facebook. Discretion is something that happens in a face look, not Facebook, in a real meet, not in a retweet. And if ever we needed to learn to be discrete it is now!

I’m not sure what it is that deludes people into thinking that they can post with impunity but I think it’s time we learned to post with some discretion.
Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt suggests that some day this Social Media Y-generation will have to change their names to rid themselves of the social history they have given themselves, here.
I’m not sure it’s as simple as that now, let alone later on, when the Y-gens become parents of little Z-gen and then they become parents of little AA-gens…
If it’s impossible to undo a gossip tale about someone else, how hard will it be to undo one about oneself? Especially if it was true and recorded in the social sphere.

So I have some Social Media discretionary suggestions:

1. Do not make a decision which ties you to a contract for longer than 6 months based on social media opinion: marriage; tattoos; buying a dog; murder; changing your religion; etc. If you have a decision to make as weighty as that get a variety of personal opinion, especially from older people who love you enough to tell if they disagree.
Those are the ones who’s advice you actually need, and they are not going to Tweet it to you. They have the best of both worlds; they’re old enough to know the correct answer and they’re not scared to tell you, but you have to ask them. Don’t even mention it on Facebook till you’ve already done it, or, even better, not done it.
If you find yourself saying, “but why can’t they just get on Facebook,” then you’re probably not old enough to be safe on Facebook by yourself.
And show some respect for goodness sake, go up to them, and ask them personally. You can’t say, “… well dad you could have told me you didn’t want me to get a bolt through my neck… I did put it in Twitter you know … it’s a bit late now…. Dude… [hit Reply].”
If you are only looking for advice that you will like then we will probably meet sometime in a counseling session where you tell me how unfair life has been and how your bad decisions were not your fault; we’ll pick up the conversation then.

Of course if you’re wanting to try a new hair style, shave off your mustache, thinking of seeing a movie or contemplating a vacation spot, then Social Media is the perfect review platform.

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2. Don’t put pictures or video on social sites of your self or anyone else doing something stupid, dangerous or drunk.
Actually stop doing those things altogether; but, for the sake of my argument, when you’re 47 and desperately in need of job; or when you’re 26 and about to ask the girl of your dream’s dad if you can have his daughter’s hand in marriage; I’ll give you three guesses what the last thing is you’d want a prospective employer/father in law finding: You guessed it… the picture you posted to 2793 people of you lying in your own vomit when you were 22!
And if you’re doing that to someone else then you’d better stop calling yourself their friend, because that’s one thing you’re not.
You think I’m joking? I find it hard to believe I actually need to say this.

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3. Don’t vent your anger on someone via Social Media. Don’t use their name and don’t do a “you know who you are…
The impression you leave with your “friends” is that you are too much of a coward to actually tell someone how you feel face to face. And if you have actually told them face to face, then why are you dragging everyone else into your dispute?
You leave us all wondering if either you or your case are not strong enough to stand on their own merits.

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4. Cryptic pleas for help in Social Media are just lame,
please don’t ask me what’s wrong,” yea right.

If you need help speak to someone who can actually help, even if it’s an e-mail or a direct message.
But casting a hook of desperation into your sea of loose connections is asking for trouble.

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5. Stop swearing! If you can’t say what you mean without the use of swear words then take a second class in English, get hold of a decent thesaurus or just stop texting!
It’s so much more fun expressing indignation with vocabulary than with coarse reference to sexual or excretory functions… see what I mean?
I hate to loose Social Media connections this way, but I’m just not going to waste my time reading your filthy language.
And yes; wtf is swearing!

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6. Don’t just write people off because they don’t agree with your view.
Don’t listen to him… he’s just a sad little moron,” kind of talk is so absolutely unnecessary!

Choose your battles, learn the robust art of debate, and the more gentle one of rhetoric. Concede when you need to, and stop the conversation when it’s over, give your opponent the last word if you must.

Sure there are some weirdos out there, and some of them are on your friends list! Use some discretion when you include friends and trimming your Facebook friend list once in a while is not a bad idea.

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7. Just stop for a moment and think. Use some common sense, ask yourself some real easy questions.
How many children will be reading this?
Who’s likely to be hurt if I say this?
How will this look on a job application?
Do I really think this?
Would I say this to their face?
Am I exaggerating?
Did I quote accurately?… etc etc.
It doesn’t take long, it just takes discipline. The reason why you can think faster than you can text, so that you can think twice before you text.
You will find that this discipline; stopping to think; helps you in every area of your life: What parties you agree to attend, where you put your cell phone, who you marry, etc.

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8. Choose a decent profile pic.
There is a door to the bathroom so that we don’t have to see you sitting on the toilet… what makes it OK to put yourself on the toilet as your profile pic?

If you’re not using your profile for business then fun is good, but there is a line between fun and disgusting, your discretion will help you find it.

If you’re having trouble you’re welcome to ask me, I will help you find it also.

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9. Pick up your grammar a bit. When you are giving a second person possessive adjective the word is “your” as in, “your opinion matters to me,” or, “your profile pic is cool.
When you’re abbreviating “you are” the word you want is “you’re” as in “you’re being stupid dude,” or, “you’re not serious about another tattoo?

It’s very hard to be taken seriously when your grammar doesn’t cut it; dude.

So I hope you ‘like’ and retweet the link to this article.
Social Media is a wonderful friend, but it’s a wicked big brother with a memory like an elephant!

Be discrete.

3 Responses to “Discretion is the better part of Twitter”

  • Jonno:

    Your the best Al! Please don’t ask what’s wrong with my grammar. She’s fine. *snigger snigger*

  • Alan:

    You’re grammar, she’s fine?

  • Graham Pye:

    So when will social networks become socially responsible?
    Great to have the freedom to communicate but like any great tool there should be basic training.
    Maybe we can have Facebook Pro for those who pass the intro 20 question exam?
    Great article and advice to preserve your real friends and your name.

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