Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Tag

Watch Your Tone! – A Plea for Civility in Online Communication   1 comment

Dear Folks,

I’m writing today to ask you to please mind your tone in your online correspondence.  It’s so easy to come off irate or bitter or jealous or devastated in email, especially if you are writing to someone who doesn’t know you or the full context about which you are writing.

Take this example: “We NEED to fix this problem NOW.”  In email, this sentence sounds harsh and irritated and angry; it also implies that the person reading the email does not think the problem needs fixing or at least doesn’t need fixing immediately.  However, the case may be – as it was for me when I received this email – that I hadn’t know there was a problem until that very minute when the email reached me.

Or consider this familiar Facebook refrain: “Today is absolutely the worst day of my life.”  My initial response is to call or drive right over to be sure this person is okay.  However, often such posts have to do with dentist appointments and frustrating children, not the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or deep depression as the hyperbolic tone of the statement implies in written form.

When we write things down, our readers take things much more seriously than if we just said them.  Taking the time to commit something to print typically signals a greater seriousness than might be conveyed in a spoken conversation.  Our challenge, in our 21st century cultures, is to be remember that just because we use online media like we use speech does not mean that our readers perceive them that way.

So instead of, “We NEED to fix this problem NOW.” perhaps we should say, “I would appreciate hearing from you about how we might handle this issue.”  Instead of “Today is absolutely the worst day of my life.” maybe it would be more appropriate to post, “I’ve had a really long, hard day.”  Then, we – the readers – can respond appropriately as the thinking, feeling people we are.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.



What tonal mistakes have you seen in online correspondence?  Why do you think we tend to write these types of things?


What I Learned By Stepping Back from the Internet   1 comment

So for the last two weeks or so, I’ve stepped back from the web a bit.  I recycled blog posts over at Andilit; I posted guest posts here or just posted less; I walked away from Twitter and Facebook almost entirely.

Here’s what I learned – the world didn’t fall apart. 

I know that sounds dramatic, but in the frenzy to keep up with people and projects, I had gotten myself worked up with when I was posting, how many times I was tweeting, my replies to Facebook posts.  Honestly, I was letting myself get stressed out.

But then, the holidays rolled in with the people and travel and parties, and suddenly, all of this online stuff became less important.  People I love were with me, in person, and I wanted to be with them.

So I step into this new year with a lot less worry and angst about the Internet.  I still think it’s important. I still have good friends that I “see” only here. It seem gives me good news and fresh ideas.  I’m not disconnecting entirely.

But I am done stressing.  I’ll post here on Tuesday and Friday, just maybe not by 9am.  I’ll tweet regularly and update my Facebook page, just not obsessively.

I’ll trust that what should come by way of news, and work, and people will come to me without my obsessing over it.

What is your relationship with the Internet like? Casual? Obsessive? Business? Stressful? Do you need to take a step back? 

Posted January 3, 2012 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Life Lessons

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Does Social Media Create or Destroy Community?   5 comments

Tonight, I was with a group of women, and Kristin leaned over and said, “Oh, Pinterest.”

On the other side of me, Beth said, “I’ve decided to avoid it altogether. I can get lost in Facebook.

Donna said, “My daughter posts 35 pictures of my granddaughter, and I love seeing them, but I can’t comment on all of them like other people do.”

“I can spend hours on StumbleUpon, “I said.  And off the conversation went . . . the joys and challenges of social media.I have this conversation just about once a week it seems.

As a person who spends most of her days alone, I find social media extremely valuable because it connects me to people I love, introduces me to new people, and gives me knowledge I didn’t have. For example, Twitter told me about Justin Bieber’s denial of his “baby daddy” status – this is valuable.  Seriously though, I find my online community to be very important to my emotional health as well as to my writing.  I would call many people I have met through social media friends and mean that as more than a Facebook connection.

But social media is also a terrible time suck. I can lose hours following the threads of information on Twitter.  On Facebook, I could bury myself in updates, trying to read everything that everyone I’ve “friended” has posted.  And don’t get me started on StumbleUpon or Pinterest . . . things tailored to my interests specifically, they are like Halloween candy – delicious for the first few pieces but then a tummy ache descends.

But more than just taking time, time that I might spend with actual humans, social media can also drive people apart.  We are quickly becoming comfortable with our private lives being public, and sometimes we say things that probably should not be said – at least not to 1000 people you only marginally know.  For example, today someone on my Facebook feed posted that she wished people would stop talking about her and her children.  I didn’t know how to take that – was this a message pointed to someone who would read it? Was it a request for commiseration?  A hope that someone would intervene?  Because I could not decipher any of those messages, I did with most such cryptic chatter – I ignored it.

Face-to-face, I hope I wouldn’t do the same thing.  I think that if a friend told me that to my face I would have much more of a sense of what she was feeling, and I would respond appropriately.  But on Facebook, I have no context, so I don’t engage . . . this is not community building.

So I’m of two minds about social media – great benefit and also great detriment.  I expect we will, as a society, grow into this still new form. . . I just hope we do it before we lose ourselves in inanity and decontextualized commentary.

What do you think of social media?  Love it? Hate it? Why? Why not?

The Lost Art of “Dropping By”   6 comments

Yesterday, I dropped by my friend Heather’s house.  Well, I didn’t exactly “drop by.”  I called because I was 15 minutes away and asked if I could drop by.  I only stayed a few minutes – long enough to tickle her son Henry’s feet, chat with her husband Ed, see how her birthday was – and then I was on my way again.  Just a quick visit.  A good visit. 

I don’t think we do that enough anymore.  We all seem so scheduled, so busy that we don’t have time to stop by and we don’t have time for people to drop by.  It’s really a shame.  There’s something truly special about a relationship where you can show up at someone’s door at any reasonable hour and be welcomed in to plop on the couch in the midst of the Legos and dirty dishes, laundry that needs folding, and the grime of the day.

I wonder what it is about now that makes this so much harder.  Is it just our busyness?  A 21st century sense of privacy?  Are we using Facebook and texting to “drop in” instead?

It does seem social media and other technology is taking the place of casual visits, but the use of Facebook for this purpose is ironic given that on Facebook – unless you have  much stricter “friend” policy than I do – you are casually dropping in on the lives of a lot of people you barely know.  While I do know, on some level, every one of the 1,000 people I am friends with on Facebook, I am not stopping by most of their houses randomly.  I would never feel comfortable, and I might be shot.

So then what we have done is create a shallower sense of casual friendship with a lot more people and, at the same time, lost of casualness in our real, face-to-face friendships.  I’m a little saddened by this.

Hear this, then, as my call for a movement, let’s take back our friendships.  Let’s stop by the homes of our real friends and watch them smile with joy when it’s us and not a pamphlet-bearer or salesperson.  Let’s use Facebook to convey the trivia of our lives, and use our tongues  to talk about real things.  Let’s keep our friendships real; we need them in a world of so much “reality” that tastes nothing of it.

You with me?

Posted September 9, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Life Lessons, Relationships

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