Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Communicating in Social Media

 
Those in the communications industry know that there are two forms of communicating - one-to-one and one-to-many. As the terms indicate, one may want to converse with only one person at a given point of time or with more than one at the same time. Basically it is about impact and relevance.

Till about a couple of months back almost anything that I posted on Facebook was one-to-many. Be it some story from the net or photographs from holidays. This despite that I have created a variety of lists categorizing friends.

Savitha on the other hand is more discrete. Her sister is far more conservative and prefers not posting photos on Facebook. She and her husband prefer to share pictures only with family through mails or Picasa. In fact, my sister-in-law observed that the practice of publishing huge albums, detailing the action in respective lives, on Facebook was more Indian behaviour. Hard to say if that is true, but does seem to be.

After that I did practice restraint, but the narcissism got the better of me. And after a recent holiday I posted photos on Facebook, for everyone too see. I must say, the number of likes is directly proportional to the feel good factor.

Photos are still tolerable.

What really amuses me is a spouse wishing the partner on birthday or anniversary on Facebook. "Happy birthday, husband (or wife, as the case maybe). Or "I miss you". Recently someone added pictures and details of the shradh for their deceased family member. There was this one occasion where a lady on Twitter spoke about the state of her undergarment during her menstruation.

I wonder if these people would do that in real world, especially in public. I am sure they won't. But social media somehow removes inhibitions. 

How do you wish a friend on his or her birthday? Call, SMS or on Facebook? If on Facebook, do you send a private message or write on the wall. A look at my wall on birthday tells me that people prefer the wall to a private message. Nothing wrong but why wall and not a private message, I wonder. Should be convenience.

I do not have to emphasize the need for exercising caution while communicating on Social Media. It is surprising that while we are agitated by the privacy settings of some social media sites, we ourselves do not practice discretion while we converse.

Here is a model that we could use while communicating in social media. It is based on personal experiences, observation and logic.

Before communicating, consider whether you want to communicate to an individual or a group. Though the group could be anything from a crowd to a close knit group. The message could be a personal. For example, say health records or bank details/passwords. Even things like I love you or my pantie is stained kind of information. Or message could be non-personal like news, jokes, trivia or any information in the public domain.
 
Based on this, you may want to:
 
  1. Whisper: If it is a personal message, please keep it strictly one-to-one. Use tools that will preserve the piracy.   
  2. Relay: Even if there is nothing personal about it, it is better to be one-to-one. While using any tool shouldn't cause any harm. Would still prefer that one uses an email or private message rather than a social media.
  3. Hidden truths: Imagine a secret society. The membership and communication is strictly controlled. Secret society or a close knit group, open communication with outer world is strictly avoided.
  4. Loudspeaker: Tweet or share in public. It's information, for the public. 
Some mediums provide only one-to-one communication while others provide multiple options. The choice of communication tool has to decided based on the audience and the relevance. Having said that it is a personal choice of what to communicate and how to communicate. For others, there is a model here. 
 
How much this thought is going to be relevant to people on Facebook, I am not sure.
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