Avoiding social media awkwardness

My five year college reunion is this weekend, which means I’m gearing up to see quite a few of my friends I haven’t seen in a long time. We’ve been communicating on Twitter, Facebook and – in rare cases – on MySpace.

I blame my BlackBerry, but I’ve become more comfortable text messaging and emailing people. I rarely talk to people on the phone or in person. I haven’t talked to one of my best friends in Southern California in more than a year on the phone, but last night we sent several texts back and forth. I’m not alone.

Many of my friends would prefer digital interaction to face-to-face.

That means we’re now existing in a world where typical etiquette norms don’t apply. We’re not sure what to do.

A couple weeks ago a friend posted a Facebook message asking something in this vein: “If you noticed someone unfriended you, what would you do?” She listed several alternatives, most people said they would do nothing. I’m in that majority.

Another friend recently sent a text with a similar conundrum. She inquired how to gently approach the subject of a changed marital status in a Facebook from “married” to “single.”

I wasn’t touching that one. (Tell her nicely to mind her own business?) But in response to that another friend sent a link to The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook.

Written by a social media enthusiast, it’s chalk-full of good suggestions for how to avoid awkwardness when communicating virtually. Plus, it takes the conversation back to the real world.

“Remember that social media communities are real relationships, real conversations, and as such, they should be treated like they are real,” the author writes at the end of the post. Good advice.

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