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Social Media Etiquette

Communicator's musings on social interactions in the digital world

By Lana V LynxPublished 25 days ago Updated 25 days ago 4 min read
Dan Bongino - Stephen King tweet exchange

When I saw the exchange on X (formerly Twitter) presented in the cover image for this story, I nearly died of laughter. Is it really possible Dan Bongino does not know who Stephen King is, the most prominent horror writer in the world, whose books have been translated into over 50 languages and sold almost half a billion copies in his entire career? Has Bongino never seen any of the movies based on Stephen King's books? This is really hard to believe.

The language used in Bongino's "comeback tweet," esp. "Nice comeback dipshit. Get a job loser" clearly suggests Bongino doesn't know who King is. Or at least did not not recognize him immediately, and responded hot-headedly, triggered by disrespect to his precious podcast. This, however, is hard to believe because King's avatar is his real picture and he has a blue check of a verified user next to it. Is Bongino that media illiterate, not to realize it's the real Stephen King, who is also famously dropping into all sorts of people's tweeting conversations? Again, hard to believe.

I have not gone on X to check if Bongino deleted his "comeback" tweet, but I would think that he'd be embarrassed by this level of ignorance once he realizes to whom he responded. Given Bongino's arrogance I don't think he'd apologize but rather come up with some sort of an excuse for his tweet. I'm not really keen on finding out anyway.

This incident made me think about social media etiquette in general, though. Social media have made celebrities (in the broader sense of the word, i.e. including politicians, artists, experts, and other opinion leaders), who were previously unreachable due to their demigod status and physical boundaries of where they dwell and hang out, within a word's reach for everyone who is on the same platform.

The boundaries of private spaces and the politeness of face-to-face communication have completely collapsed on social media: People blurt out all sorts of things on social media, irrespective of rank and expertise. Partly this is due to the anonymity and digital unreachability effects: they will not suffer the consequences of face-to-face communication, such as a disgusted smirk, a bemused chuckle, a frown, or a mocking laugh, a witty comeback or even a mild passive-aggressive insult. Knowing this, smart people stopped engaging in these type of exchanges altogether. I can vividly picture Stephen King bursting out with laughter at the Bongino's "Get a job" and move on with his fabulously comfortable and secure life without responding to this stupidity. But to Bongino and his fans it is a clear win: He has put a jobless Stephen King in his place and shut him up.

As a communicator, I have developed a set of rules for responding to people's offensive and/or unfair remarks on social media that are useful for myself and hopefully will be useful for others:

1) Don't respond immediately, especially driven by the immediate urge of frustration or anger. Cool it off, take some time (for me it's anywhere from one long breath of 7 seconds to 15 minutes) and think through your response carefully if you still are fuming about it after the cool-off period.

2) Ask yourself, "Is it really important for me to address this and respond to the comment?" "Will it drastically improve my life and/or my self-image if I engage?" If the answer is "yes," act on it. If it's not important, just ignore it and put it out of your mind.

3) Before making a judgement, ask a question about the comment. Sometimes people just don't understand the consequences of what they say, so asking something like "What made you write this when you hardly know me?" or "Where is this information coming from?" will damper the negative exchange.

4) If the negative conversation is taking place on your own social media page, remember that you have the ultimate power of deleting the comment. At least on Facebook it is still the case, and on other social media you can report the comment to moderators. If people accuse you of suppressing their free speech, you can simply tell them that you are not a newspaper and they can exercise their free speech rights elsewhere, outside of your personal spaces on social media. Just like in real life: As a hospitable host, you don't have to tolerate people shitting in the corner of your house and leaving you to deal with the clean-up. You either give them a broom and a mop or kick them out.

5) Clean out your circle of friends and relations and periodically cleanse yourself from social media by taking a leave of absence. It's just a basic rule of hygiene, to limit toxicity in your life.

And to wrap it up, I offer you an ultimate rule for interaction on social media that was actually formulated by Charlie Sheen, who had experienced a lot of hate and criticism in his life. When he was in his sober and self-reflective mindset, after being kicked out from Two and a Half Men, he said to one of his haters:

"Even though I am a celebrity who chose to be in the public light, don't say or write anything about me that you won't be able to say to my face and in the presence of my parents."

I like this two-part test because when you say something negative to the person's face it means you are ready to stand up and provide evidence for those words as you believe they are true. The second part, "in the presence of my parents" is an additional standard of decency in a polite society that, if followed, would make our conversations a lot more positive and effective. After all, no decent or polite person would want to upset parents by dissing on their children.

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About the Creator

Lana V Lynx

Avid reader and occasional writer of satire and short fiction. For my own sanity and security, I write under a pen name. My books: Moscow Calling - 2017 and President & Psychiatrist

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Andrea Corwin 3 days ago

    The clean out friends is something I began years before social media - I call it clearing out the a-holes, January 1st. I love this and need to keep it at the forefront (although I don't engage with weirdos or aholes which follows your advice also) "What made you write this when you hardly know me?" or "Where is this information coming from?" will damper the negative exchange." Great article!

  • Jay Kantor20 days ago

    Dear Lana - In this NewWorld 'Polite' Society, he who blathers 'No you're the Dummy' the loudest rules. j.in.l.a.

  • Daphsam25 days ago

    Thanks for sharing! Your take on social media etiquette is spot-on.

  • I don't know who Dan Borgino is but I'm surprised that he doesn't know or didn't recognise Stephen King! It's the King! Also, shame on me for thinking he's already dead 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 I love that rule, "don't say or write anything that you won't be able to say to my face and in front of my parents.:

  • Great rules Lana! This is hilarious and hard to believe actually happened... unless maybe we can blame AI 👀haha

  • Rachel Deeming25 days ago

    Excellently written, Lana. I knew Stephen King but not Dan Borgino. I'm guessing I'm not his target audience, Dan's, that is. I agree with all of your advice for responding to people who comment and abstaining from engaging if you feel it's not worth it.

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