The rise of social media has changed everything (I know – stop press! But stay with me…)
We now know more about our friends than ever before. I know that my friend Fiona took her dad to Soho Japan for lunch today (she checked in on Foursquare) and thanks to Twitter, I know that tonight, my colleague Sarah watched Kirstie’s Handmade Britain on Channel 4. “I’m not feeling this Handmade Britain prog,” she tweeted. “Really useless stuff’s being made. I don’t want a display with plums in it on my dinner table!”
You could argue that knowing all the details about everyone means there’s less need to actually meet up for a wine, some Mini Cheddars and a gossip (admittedly though, I doubt if I went out with Fiona or Sarah for a wine that the first thing they’d do is fill me in on what they had for lunch or what they watched on telly last night. They’d be far more likely to launch into some juicy gossip they just heard.)
In just the last few weeks on Facebook, I’ve seen honeymoon snaps of people I briefly worked with a while back, and photos of a new baby belonging to a guy my friend used to go out with back in our uni days. It’s genuinely lovely to have these photos shared – they’re life altering moments and the ability to allow all your friends (and acquaintances) to see and comment on those moments is brilliant and genius. But do we need some new social media rules put in place now that our mums, aunties, grandparents and the milkman are all using social media?
Is it acceptable, for example, to post something on Facebook or Twitter about the birth of a baby before the parents have done so? I’ve seen it happen a couple of times where an excited friend posts on the (very) new mum’s Facebook wall, thus broadcasting the news to 507 people, potentially before the new mum’s nearest and dearest know. Emma in Bromley blogged about this happening to her a few months back.
And what about pressing that ‘share’ button on a photo of someone’s cute baby on Facebook? They may well have their privacy settings set to max, and be keen to keep photos of their children away from ‘public view’ (see this post I wrote about a child’s online footprint) but just one click of the share button means that all your friends get to see that photo.
Fair enough or a massive social faux-pas?