Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Etiquette Lesson

This week I had the novel experience of having to take a new employee to task about dressing inappropriately.  My workplace has a very casual dress code, so not very many things cross the line, but there's a first time for everything.  It was another reminder of how little we keep private these days, what with facebook and Twitter and all other types of social media and celebrity culture.

I feel like I gave that young woman some good advice about developing professionalism no matter what her job is, and I'd like to give some more advice, or at lease suggestions, to young people out there, about privacy, especially online.

First of all, young people, now that Valentine's Day is over and you've come down from your sugar and endorphin highs, please tell me that you are a little bit embarrassed that you posted online a photo of you and your true love passionately kissing, with some kind of message full of gushy extended words: "I looooooove my smoooochy boo!" Because you should be embarrassed.  I don't care if 6 people clicked the Like button.  All 578 of your other mutual facebook friends felt a little bit nauseous at the sight of it and laughed nervously and scrolled past it very quickly.  You and Smoochy Boo should definitely keep sending those messages to each other, but you should do it privately.  I know you are happy and proud of each other, but love notes are immensely more powerful, more sincere, and more meaningful when they are directed to your lover's eyes only, and not the world's.  Also, despite what you see on TV and in the movies, nobody likes to watch other people kissing, and if they do then they are gross.

Second, about those Valentine's gifts he gave you...  Everyone who is in a happy relationship got some kind of gift on Valentine's Day, not just you!  Yes, yours was the most special, but only to you!   I'm not trying to be mean, but when I see six photos posted on facebook in succession, beginning with the wrapped gift and ending with the unwrapped gift, with every stage in between tagged with #lovemyhubby, #besthusbandever, #hugsandkissesforever, etc., then I wonder if you are in a reality show that needs publicity, or else you have a super eager personal assistant, or maybe just plain too much time on your hands.  Or, heaven forbid, bragging.  It's not that I'm against posting photos of sweet gifts on facebook, my suggestion is to try and have a little more tact, a little more self control, a little less "look at how rich and wonderful my husband is because he got me this stuff!"  Okay, so I'm a little guilty here because I did post a picture of the heart-shaped cookie cutter that my husband made for me out of a tin can, and the cookie I then made for him using said cookie cutter, but my post was more out of a sense of "I can't believe he just made a cookie cutter out of a tin can!" than "look at me unwrap this name-brand thing he bought at the super expensive store for me!"  It has always been rude to proclaim one's wealth. It alienates you from your friends in some cases, or brings you the wrong kind of friends.  So, when you feel like bragging, think twice.  Tone it down.  Enjoy your blessings for sure, but remember that not everyone has what you have, or cares that you have it. Yes, they want to see cute pictures of your kids.  Yes, they want to know what fun places you are visiting.  But mostly your friends and family just want to know that you are happy, and that is all. 

My third and final bit of advice for this post is to remind you, young person, that what you post online has the potential to exist forever.  Just because you delete it doesn't mean it is gone.  So before uploading pictures of your naked pregnant belly, or writing a status-update about how you breast-fed your kid until they were 5, or how much you are going to love and adore your current boyfriend who can be seen kissing on you in the majority of your photos, think about how embarrassed your kid is going to feel when their friends see that, or how you are going to feel when you break up with that boyfriend and start dating someone else.  Just think about what you write and what you share with the world.  Sharing an abundance of personal information and feelings with close friends and family is wonderful, but to do so in a public forum is so often inappropriate.

Anyway, as with all advice, you are free to take it or leave it.  You may completely disagree with me, or you may have learned your own lesson from experience with the above.  Perhaps I have broken an etiquette rule by presuming I have something to teach.  Nevertheless, I just hope that with all the amazing ways we have to communicate with each other these days, we remember that not everything is meant to be communicated with everyone.

1 comment:

westendgirl said...

Yes, amen to this whole post! Especially about the hashtagging. I think I've had enough of the whole 5-10 hashtags for just one picture.