Recently a Facebook Wall conversation among a bunch of friends took a nasty turn when another person jumped in head first without looking. This person was a friend of the profile owner but did not know the others. Completely misunderstanding the tone, direction and even character of the people involved, he upbraided everyone for their opinions and derided their morals, not stinting on using bad language nor on launching personal attacks.
The conversation could have de-evolved had not everybody else taken the higher ground and ignored him, but it got me to thinking: Should we treat Facebook conversations as public conversations, even on a “closed” Wall?
We’re told not to think Facebook is ever private, no matter how locked down your profile may be. This is obviously a good rule to follow on any social media platform, especially with 24/7 access.
Say you were walking past a group of people having a conversation on the street and overheard them say something that piqued your interest, was against your moral beliefs, or otherwise antagonized you. Would you feel you had a perfect right to jump in midstream because it was being discussed in the open?
Personally, I wouldn’t, especially if I didn’t know 90% of the people involved. Whether it’s true etiquette or not, there’s the mind-your-own-beeswax factor as well as the fact that I’m an observer and usually try to get the feel of an ongoing conversation before joining it.
Does social media change all this? Should online conversations be held to a whole new set of etiquette and common sense rules, or should the “real life” ones still apply?