Posted in Manners

5 Rules for being a polite citizen on social media


It’s funny that I’m the one writing this because I’m usually the champion of all things social.  It irks me to no end when people say things like “texting is making kids stupid!”, or “facebook makes people nasty!”.  No, they don’t.  What these platforms do, however, is highlight that something ‘special’ within a person for many, many people to see.  If you don’t read, you probably can’t spell.  If you’re a thoughtless person, you will be thoughtless online.  I’m all for learning new ways to communicate, and all things considered, my online experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

What I’ve been noticing lately though,  is that the grace and politeness we all should have been taught in our formative years is severely lacking on social media.  I know a lot of people were not taught how to be polite, and all those people can do is watch people who were taught and emulate them.  But there is also a faction of people who were taught politeness and for their own reasons, feel that social media is the place where they need not employ the finer graces.  So be it.  What I see though, is that the person who can employ old school values with new practices will have the business/social world at his or her feet.  This is simply combining basic psychology with technology: you have the power to reach a lot of people with your message, so make your message a good one.  Be the person who makes people feel good.  Here are five ways to do exactly that:

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5) Reply.  This is a simple one that people are doing less and less.  If someone were to walk up to you in the workplace or at a party and ask you a question, you would answer them, right?  Social media is simply the new way of being at work or a party.  This is your community, speaking to you and listening to you.  Not replying to a direct message is incredibly rude.  Okay, we’ve all forgotten to reply a time or two.  Or ten.  I have been guilty of this before, for sure.  But I never want someone to feel they have been ignored by me, whether I know them or not, so I make a point of going through my messages once a month or so to make sure I haven’t forgotten anyone or left our conversation at an awkward point.  This takes time, yes.  I may have to watch one less Mindy Project a month or get an hour less of sleep, and it’s worth it.  You’re not too busy for other people, and if you are, you need to step back and assess your priorities.  When you give people your time, even just a little bit of it, that affirms them as people.  And since they are just as important and valid as you are (yes, it’s true!), they deserve to be affirmed.  It’s a small thing, but it makes all the difference for you and them.

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4) Reply (and comment) cordially.  I can’t tell you how many times I have asked someone a question or introduced myself and have gotten a thoughtless or rude reply back.  These include but are not limited to “huh?”, or “wtf”, or derogatory comments.  Would you speak this way to a person standing in front of you?  I really hope not.  And if not, don’t write it.  There’s a phenomenon called dehumanization, and it’s how we can give someone the finger while driving, or get mad and say awful things about a person not present: we make others less than ourselves in our heads so they’re not really human, then address them as such.  Do people do stupid things?  Yeah, of course.  Do you stupid things?  You do, all the time.  You have probably even posted something dumb in your life.  So be gracious when you feel others do it.  Realize that they may have been in a hurry that day, or mistaken you for someone else, or accidentally posted something that you believe to be false or stupid, or…whatever.  Whoever did it is an actual person, just like you, who has a job and a life and people who love them and good days and bad days.  Don’t be a part of them having a worse day by being rude online.

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3) Engage.  You know those people who reactively shut down their facebook pages, then come back when they need something?  Maybe they started a new business and need to market it, or maybe they just want to creep people’s vacation pictures.  Whatever the reason, it’s ridiculous to do that, and here’s why: social media is a community.  Yes, I know we’re not all sitting around a fire right now signing camp songs, but we are virtually doing some version of that every day.  Imagine being at that campfire for awhile, then throwing a mini tantrum and announcing you’re leaving because you’re just sick of it!!!  You can’t just come back when the marshmallows are out and it’s time to make smores: that’s not cool, bro.  Because this is an online COMMUNITY, if you want to be a part of it you will be expected to contribute to it.  And here’s the truth: if your community sucks, it’s probably because you suck.  If you have a complainy, whiny, low achieving, lame online community, guess what?  Those are your friends, and that’s probably you too.  It’s a lot easier to see yourself reflected on a screen than it was before we were all writing and sharing our lives on it.  It’s easier to have a crap group of friends and pretend they’re just down on their luck, or the world is unfair, or they’re actually cool deep, deep down when they’re not posting affirmations of their lame selves.  So check out what facebook, instagram, pinterest, and twitter are telling you.  Are they good messages that are hopeful and productive?  Are they encouraging you to share your best self?  Are they accepting of you when you’re down, but encouraging you to get back up again?  We have an amazing opportunity to create our lives online, which become our lives offline nowadays.  Make friends on social media, engage them in real life, BAM!  You have new friends.  So choose wisely, contribute thoughtfully, and understand how community works.

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2) Stop inviting me to like stuff.  And if you do, limit it to your business.  Facebook “liking” has gotten to the point where it’s completely pointless.  I know when I see a business page that less than half of the people who “like” your page don’t even know what’s on it. So yay for you, you pressed the little button inviting people to like you and they aren’t jerks so they said yes.  I have done this, I know how it works.  But some people invite me to like something every day, and I don’t like it!  I don’t know who you are or what this thing is, and you’ve given me no reason to care.  You know what works?  Maybe a handful of people have done this to me, and I have appreciated it immensely: writing someone a quick note when you’ve invited them to support a page telling them what it is and why they should care.  It’s personal, it’s informative, and it connects people.  Does it take more time?  Yeah, lots more.  But I’m way more likely to actually engage with you and your business if you do.

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1) Be positive, be real.  I keep reading about how social media isn’t “real”, and I’m flabbergasted.  How many of us have family pictures from the night your little brother got sick and threw up at the dinner table, and your brother started crying and your Dad yelled at him, so your mom got mad at your Dad and everyone was fighting and puking and crying?  Probably no one.  Ever run into an ex and told them how terrible your life was?  NOPE!  You’re fabulous, it’s fabulous, everything is fabulous.  We take pictures when we’re happy, we chat when we’re happy, we post when we’re happy.  This is human nature: we want to remember good and project good.  And the good in our lives is not fake (hopefully), even though when you look at your page it may look lopsided.  There’s so much opportunity for us all to share our real bits if we so choose, like this here blog.  I started it to be honest about things that I thought probably a lot of us could relate to.  On my most “real” posts I’ve gotten tons of private messages from people who have thanked me for writing because they have similar stories, but they won’t share them with the world.  And that’s ok, they don’t feel a burden like I do to share my private thoughts and experiences.  We all have different levels of comfort with sharing ourselves, and if you feel you want to be more authentic, do it.  If not, don’t.  Keep your judgments to yourself and realize we all have different purposes on this earth.  And if you delete a social media account because it’s not “real” enough, that’s your fault, no one else’s.  Social media has no parameters about personal authenticity, only you do.  You want it to be different?  Change it.  You’ll be surprised by how many people thank you for saying or doing something new.  Now, some people are so negative (their version of being real) that I end up blocking them.  If you’re going to post awful pictures all the time of world atrocities or denigrate other people, I’m out.  I have only deleted two people for this, but I have blocked a few.  Those I blocked I love in real life, but they feel the need to be overly critical or negative or just mean on social media all the time, and I don’t want to see that every day.  It’s perfectly alright to filter people, but try not to drop them.  Getting rid of people you don’t want to listen to is a slippery slope, because you may end up with a small group of friends who all think the same as you, and that’s how cults start.


So that’s the list I stick to in an effort to be polite and gracious on social media.  Let me know if you agree, disagree, or don’t care, I would love to hear it!

Until next time, everyone!  Be kind!


Posted in Manners

Stop deleting your fb friends, dammit!

I love when I hear people dising facebook…love it!  Because then I get a chance to argue them down to the ground about it.  And I always win, because my position just makes sense.  I have a lot of friends.  In real life and on facebook.  I’m not saying it in a smug way, I give up a lot of “me time” to stay connected to these friends, both in real life and on my computer.  And I used to get hassled a lot for having a high number of facebook friends.  “Are they REALLY all your FRIENDS, Brianna?” people would ask me accusingly.  And to answer that question: no.  I don’t have coffee with all of them on any kind of regular basis, or even ever.  Some facebook friends I will never meet.  But I am connected to all of them.  I get a little window into their lives, and the potential for friendship is always there.  I use facebook as a tool to get to know people.  I have met some people it later turned out I didn’t want to know…yes, there are definitely some messed-up people out there.  One guy asked if I would kneee him in the nuts…one guy wrote some pretty nasty stuff about female anatomy on my wall…and I know a couple of girls who overshare their negative worldview; that can ware on you.  But overall, facebook has done for me what other technologies have claimed they would do, but have never delivered: connection.  I have had elementary school, and youth group reunions made possible by facebook…I have gone on dates with guys I knew years ago and never would have reconnected with otherwise.  I have found people I’d lost from my past and struck up new genuine friendships with them…I have met strangers who have become great friends.  I have made business deals and connections, gotten people to read this blog, and stayed in touch with family who live far away.  And this would not be at all possible without facebook. 

So if you’re one of the dissers…if you want to complain that facebook is a waste of time, an invasion of privacy, or a dumb concept: consider the possibility that you just have a bad attitude and are using it wrong.  The point of work, play, life in general are the connections we make.  And no matter what tool you’re using, if you decided you don’t like people, it will never, ever work for you.

Posted in Inspirational, Manners

How to make a Decision

I have encountered a bit of this lately; friends of mine deciding whether or not they should go on that vacation, buy that house…marry that guy.  I used to have trouble making decisions too, until I ended up getting divorced, and concluding that there was obviously something wrong with my decision-making capabilities.  For over a year, I put all of my major decisions to a vote of my close friends and family.  It worked out pretty well…I did get tired of my entire life being up for debate ALL of the TIME, but I have to say the results were no worse than what I’d chosen for myself.  Now I have a 3 step process to deciding anything big, and I think that applying this would help anyone’s decision making process much easier.  Here it is:

1-Enlist the help of trusted friends…to pray.  I ask people to pray for me all the time.  If it’s important to me, I have no shame in asking, and if you do, think of it this way: would you ever think less of a friend of yours for asking you to pray for them in a difficult situation?  If you would, you’re a bad friend.  Sorry to be blunt.  And if they mock you for asking…guess what?  Better to know what kind of friend they are sooner rather than later.

2-Do your homework.  Good things come to those who are prepared.  So ask experts, google stuff, go to the library…do whatever you have to to learn as much as you can about what you are making a decision on.  If it’s buying a house, research what the surrounding area has been zoned for and ask 3 different realtors about their predictions about future property values.  If it’s about dating, ask mutual friends etc.  This is not a weird or obsessive thing to do…this is called homework, and it’s even more important out of school.

3-Trust your Gut.  At the end of the day, this is your life and your decision and whatever you decide has to feel right for you.  So even if the first two steps look all clear, if it doesn’t feel right it’s a no-go.  You need to be able to picture yourself in the proposed scenario and have a nice, easy, peaceful feeling when you think about it.  If you don’t…be wary.  This could very well be the trick answer; like on multiple choice tests where two of the provided answers are clearly false, one is the right answer, and one is so close to the right answer that it makes you second-guess what you know to be true.  Don’t fall for the trick answer!  Try it out in your head, “live” in your new decision for a bit before it’s made…if you experience anything but complete bliss, you’re either not ready or this is the wrong choice.

Making a decision needn’t be any more complicated than these 3 steps.  A lot of the time the deliberation we experience is not actually indecision, but avoidance of knowing an answer that we don’t like; an unpleasant breakup or the reality that we really don’t need to make a large purchase right now.  If this is the case, simply skip the steps (you’ve actually already done them in your head), and proceed directly to honnesty with yourself.    Honnesty…that’s a whole other blog right there…

Posted in Manners

How to be a Sparkling Conversationalist

Mom always said: Be interestED, and interestING.  This is the key to great conversations.  So how many bad conversations are you involved in every day, every week?  How many of them are bad because of you?  It’s a touchy subject, I know…most of us like to think we are the epitome of charm and wit, dazzling others with our conversational skills.  Unfortunately, current evidence will point to the contrary.  I read an article the other day that said this next generation of kids will be almost unable to write an essay in school, much less hold an impromptu conversation with a stranger…the culprit, the article asserts, is technology.  Texting, video games, our preocupation with digital communication is obliterating our ability to communicate the old-fashioned way.  And that, my friends, is a shame.

So I have put together a list of 5 things you absolutely need to be a great conversationalist.  I rarely if ever find myself in an un-worthwhile conversation.  So, I figured Mom must have been on to something.  Here goes:

5) Get your rest!  I know a man who has been credited with being an amazingly fun and interesting guy, and alternately charged with having the personality of a folding chair.  I know that he is completely fun and interesting, and I know why he can sometimes come across as dead to the world.  It all has to do with his mood, and the amount of sleep he’s gotten.  Being rested means the difference sometimes between caring and not caring about whatever situation you find yourself in.  And to be a great conversationalist, you need to have the energy to make an effort.  Simple as that.

4) Be interested in the world.  The most interesting people I’ve met know a little bit about everything.  They don’t walk into a room and start spouting trivia, but they can respond inteligently to almost any question they’re asked, whether they have direct knowledge of a topic or know someone who does…even if they’ve read something about it and can understand the topic being discussed.  We are all grown-ups here, living in the world.  It’s important to know the world you’re living in.

3) Be inclusive, never exclusive.  I mean this in a different way than you may think.  Yes, drawing people into a conversation and not being cliquey is very important, but it’s more than that.  Be very careful to never, ever shut people down.  Have you seen the youtube video on Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman?  Consider that an excellent example of being exclusive.  It is not acceptible in a social setting to exist in your own little world.  When in conversation with one person or in a group, you are expected to make eye contact with each person, to respond appropriately to what is being said, and to keep the conversation going as long as it is appropriate to do so.  So the answer to any question, any idea or any assertion, is never “No”.  If you must answer in the negative, always end in the positive; “no, I’m not familiar with that artist…would I have seen any of his work around here?” is a much better answer than “no.”, which is unforgiveably rude to someone trying to engage you in conversation.

2) Remember that you are never the most interesting person there.  Even if you know beyond a doubt that you are, pretend you’re not.  Because the minute you start talking about yourself more than 30% of the whole conversation…you have just become boring.  Think about the people you’ve spoken with recently who have mainly talked about themselves.  Unnatractive, isn’t it?  Don’t do it.

1) Be genuinely interested in who you’re talking to.  If you remember nothing else, remember this: no matter who you are or where you go, people are drawn to people who like them.  So if you enter a social situation genuinely interested and ready to like whoever you meet, you will always be successful.  This involves making eye contact with the person who is speaking, asking questions like “what do you think about that?” or “how do you like that?”…I even sometimes ask complete strangers what he or she did that day.  It seems an odd question from someone you don’t know, but think about how interested that person feels I am in them by the end of the conversation.  If you are interested in and decide to genuinely like the person you’re speaking with, you will automatically make the effort to make him or her feel comfortable.  And there is nothing more charming than that.


Posted in Manners

Tell him to try again!!!

Something that’s been coming up again and again in my world is the subject of divorce. My own divorce will be final this summer…but it’s other couples divorces that have been brought to my attention of late. Those of friends, aquaintances, family…and they all seem to be young couples. Now, there could be, and are, many many reasons for this. We are the McDonalds generation, bred for instant gratification…we are so used to getting exactly what we want that marriage and compromise (the C word), just don’t resonate with us…the list of reasons goes on and on. I have my own theory, which doesn’t ring true with everyone but I know for me it did, and the same goes for many friends of mine. We are women; they are men. We want romance and passion and protection; they want frequent sex and thriftiness and the occasional intelectual conversation. And both of us are not getting what we want. I’m not sure about all the women out there, but when I was married it was a point of pride to me to the kind of wife I knew my husband, and every husband would want. I would remind him to book tee off times with friends because he needed a break…I would discuss politics with him at coffee, I would make him lunches to take to work and I would do my best to fulfill any fantasies he related to me. What I didn’t get in my marriage was the passion, romance, and protection I needed. In hindsight, I think it all started with the proposal. It was…NOT a proposal. And I really should have said no. Dating is the start of a relationship, true…but the proposal is the start of the two of you being intentionally united for life. Hopefully. My Mom always told me, start as you mean to go. So really, the proposal sets the tone for your whole marriage. Ha ha, not to overstate it, but it does. The reality is, if a man wants to spend the rest of his life with you and only you, he will dispense the effort necesary to give you the proposal you want. The proposal you can relate to all of your friends and gloat about. He needs to know you, and figure out what you would LOVE…and with the internet and all the other resources we have nowadays, there is no excuse for not figuring out the perfect proposal for YOU, the woman he loves. It’s his job. And it’s your job to demand it. Now I know I may sound like a tyrant using words like “demand” here…but I really do believe one of the huge reasons for the breakdown of marriages everywhere are unmet desires…and we as women have desires that our men do not fundamentally understand. I have come to the conclusion through my own failed marriage that I need to first be aware of what it is that really want from my partner and our life together, and then specifically tell him what I’d like. I used to think that telling him would ruin it…that the pleasure of him giving me what I wanted would be usurped by him only doing it as directed. But you know what? That’s bullshit. We need to teach our men how to treat us, and men as I have learned, need very specific direction. It doesn’t ruin the result…it sets us up for success!
So, about the proposal: I don’t want to hear any more of you being disapointed by the way your future husband asks you to spend the rest of your life with him. If you feel that the way he asks is not the what you’d like to tell your friends and family, tell him to try again! My husband asked me if “I’d like to marry him”. Confused, I replied “duh!”, after which he told me to get my ring out of the trunk of the car. Should I have guessed that this was a man who would never really bother to put the effort in to be romantic? Hells yes I should have! Should I have said no? Absolutely! And now we’re divorced for that very reason…learn from me, ladies!

Start as you mean to go!