If you spend any amount of time following my online adventures - through my blog, Twitter, Facebook, or otherwise - then there are some things you need to know:
- Please don't assume that you know me because you read my posts or status updates. I'm not saying this because I think I'm mysterious or hard to know, I'm saying it because I believe reading someone's status updates does not constitute an engaged and genuine human relationship. I do use the Internet to express myself, but only one very particular slice of myself. I hope we can talk "in real life" or even via more direct online communication if we really want to get to know each other better.
- Please don't assume that I know you because of your posts or status updates. I sometimes try to keep up with what people are saying about their lives on social networking sites, but sometimes I definitely don't bother. If there's something exciting, hard, important, or otherwise noteworthy happening in your life, you should assume you need to tell me about it in an "old fashion way" (e-mail, phone, letter, in person) if you want me to know or care. (Hopefully I will also be asking you how you are doing once in a while too.)
- I have a sense of humor that sometimes doesn't translate very well to written electronic form. Sometimes I type things that sound absolutely hilarious in my head, and come out quite confusing (or even worse, alarming) in pixel form. I guess you should assume that if something I type sounds weird or problematic, it's just a poorly executed attempt at humor, but you're still welcome to call me out on it.
- I don't act on ambient invitations. Just because you think I may have heard about your (non-public) event, gathering or party because other people are mentioning it online or because you mentioned it on Facebook, please don't assume that I think of myself as invited. This may be old fashioned or even self-absorbed of me, but I generally still want to know directly from someone if they want me in attendance somewhere (and will generally give you back the courtesy of a direct RSVP).
- I don't really use Facebook for anything other than status updates. I generally do not respond to requests for joining causes or groups, and I never accept requests to take quizzes, play games, or send or receive strange little objects via applications. I often don't have time or interest in responding to comments people post on my status updates. I know, I know, some people will be like "Dude, you're DOING it wrong," and maybe I am. Just don't take it personally.
- I use Delicious.com for social bookmarking, and you should too. If I see a website link that I think you might enjoy, I'm 27% more likely to follow through on that thought and make you aware of it if you have a Delicious.com account so that I can bookmark it for you there. If I have to send you an e-mail message, I'm less likely to bother. I'm sorry, it's lazy, I know, I know.
I realize that this may sound curmudgeonly, especially coming from someone who works with the Internet for a living and who encourages people to use it as a tool for better communication. But if you do read my blog, you know I feel strongly that we need to be very careful about replacing genuine human interaction with stalking each other on Facebook.
I know it may be futile, but it's important for me to draw some of these lines in the sand about what kind of life I will and will not live online.
If you maintain some sort of presence on the Internet (via Facebook, Twitter, a blog or otherwise), what are some ground rules you set for yourself, and what should people expect (or not expect) from that online existence?