I am writing (or attempting to write) for the weekly Hump Day Hmm on ethics and mores in social media. Rarely do I write a more boring or bland opening statement, but I am suffering from a dilemma of being interested in writing about the subject and not having the time to truly devote to the topic. Such as it is, here are my thoughts.
First, there are certainly far more tools to communicate with today than probably ever before, and yet human beings seem to be communicating less and less effectively all the time. The social media available have contributed greatly to the degradation of our language skills, both writing and speaking. When I hear someone say "LOL" or anything of that kind from chat-speak in normal conversation, I have to avoid slapping them or screaming. I have been actively using online forms of communication since the early Nineties, and I have refused to ever completely break from using complete sentences because I know that my ability to share my thoughts in a clear and cohesive manner would be destroyed. I see my fears realized vicariously every time I see teenagers texting in truncated letters and numbers that have some vague meaning to the people using the jargon but clearly are not English (or any other standard language, though I can't speak to how those things work in any other written languages). I am greatly disturbed by how much those things have started creeping into our general culture. It has become completely commonplace to talk in acronyms - today I listened to a speaker continually refer to the IOC's and the TMS without ever explaining what an IOC is (someone else explained what TMS stands for). I am sure my experience was similar to that described here so eloquently by Julie Pippert. Many people in the room obviously knew what was being discussed, but I know for a fact that other people in that room did not know what was being discussed. Two people asked me if I "got anything at all out of that" and we discussed the confusion of being new to such a meeting.
Back to the main idea, though: what are the ethics and mores in social media. My main concern is to maintain my own standards in language and proper respect of others as I use social media. I also do my best to make sure that my time spent utilizing any media is something of value to me and (hopefully) to others. One reason I avoided starting a blog for so long was the fear that it would consume my time and take me away from my wife and kids. I also did not want it to conflict with my working life. I feel I have managed to avoid becoming obsessed with blogging, but I know it can quickly become a struggle because other bloggers are so fascinating. Other people are fascinating. I can be very empathetic with people, and as I become involved in knowing more about a person, it becomes far too easy to care about them. I know that sentence sounds callous, but I am a person who can care far too much about other people if I don't keep myself in check. I have lived through periods where I was more concerned with other people's wants and desires than my own, and I suffered for it. So, again, I have to avoid worrying so much about what Joe Bobby Tucker in Middleofnowhere, USA, is suffering through at this moment because I have my own life to live.
We, as a society, need to harness the tools we have and utilize them in ways that improve education, improve communication, and improve relationships. As long as we continue to move further into hermit-like existences in our own communities and homes for the sake of keeping up with blogs/chats/twitter/texting/Mushes/whatever else, then our tools are leading to our downfall as individuals and as a society. If we do turn the tide and make these into true tools, perhaps we will find the way to solve some of the great problems facing the world today - poverty, hunger, pollution, education, debt, health care, the list goes on.