Friday, September 07, 2012

News Sharing Etiquette

While it has many positives, Facebook often really bugs me.  It has become a vehicle for people to just dump important news out to the hoards without any consideration for their family and close friends.  It's fine to announce to your 200 friends that you're eating a nice piece of cake, but I really don't want to find out that a close friend or family member is engaged, pregnant, has given birth, been diagnosed with cancer, or dead via Facebook!

I know I'm not alone in thinking this, but I often feel like I am.  When I casually mention to people that it's polite to notify those closest to them by means other than Facebook before throwing it out to the general public, I get puzzled looks.  But Facebook is so much easier and more convenient, they say.  That is until they are on the receiving end.  Suddenly they don't like hearing about the birth of their niece or nephew along with everyone else.  Suddenly Mother's excuse that it was easier to announce via Facebook that Granny had died rather than call the family individually just doesn't cut it.

I've felt hurt that I've found out things from people I used to consider quite good friends via their Facebook status.  Whereas in the pre-Facebook days they would have sent me an SMS, email, called me, or told me in person, now suddenly I'm just lumped in the same category as that person they went to school with and haven't seen for 10+ years.  Even a private Facebook message would have been better than a status!

So, Duncan and I have been faced with a dilemma: Do we just plod along with the way society is going and stick all our news on Facebook?  Or do we swim against the tide and continue to notify those important to us via other means BEFORE sticking it on Facebook....whether they return the courtesy or not?

We decided to go with the latter.  With the impending birth of our baby, we decided to put our convictions into action.  We either phoned, texted, or told people in person (if we happened to see them) that I was pregnant.  By the time we announced it on Facebook, most people already knew.  Sometimes it feels like people announce things on Facebook straight away so they can get lots of comments/likes.  Other methods of communication may be more expensive or inconvenient, but I know when people go out of their way to tell me things, I feel valued.  We wanted our friends and family to know we value them.

My other gripe with news sharing is when people share OTHER PEOPLE'S news for them.  Things like announcing the birth of other people's children on Facebook before they get a chance to do it themselves! "I'm so happy for my friends Bob and Sue who have just welcomed little Bobby-Sue. Love you guys!"  In the pre-Facebook days, I found out some friends were engaged because another friend rang me before the engaged couple got a chance to.  It's just not on.  It's someone else's special moment.  They should get the chance to announce it.  Excuses like, "But I was just so excited," don't cut it.  I honestly think people do this because they want to look important and 'in the know'.  They want others to know that they knew first.

When you've got some news to tell,
Share with those who you know well.
Before you spread it far and wide,
First swim against the tide.
Make an effort for those near and dear.
Think how you'd feel if you were to hear,
Something via the grapevine,
You'd expect to hear via another line.
Let people announce their news.
Remember the social cues.
It's their time in the sun,
Don't let your tongue spoil their fun.

What do you think is good news sharing etiquette?

1 comment:

Iris Flavia said...

I´m with you. Sarah! Really, people dare to tell other people´s news like that? That surely is sad, they must be really small...