Social media speak: mind your Ps and Qs

“Nothing you wouldn’t want your Granny to read.” That’s the general rule when it comes to posting something on social media these days.

Some celebrities are right divils for using the social media platform Twitter for interacting with their adoring public and generally acting the monkey. Unlike us, however, their pool of viewers is much more vast, so extra caution needs to be taken. This isn’t always the case.

Just last week, Peaches Geldof was criticised for Tweeting the names of the mothers of the babies involved in Ian Watkins’ court case. These women had been granted lifelong anonymity due to the serious nature of the case, yet there their names were for over 166,000 people to see, never mind the numbers who would have spotted it if it were retweeted. The Tweet has since been deleted, yet the names must surely be somewhere in the public by now.

It’s not just celebrities talking to us who need to watch their virtual tongues, the same also applies to their admirers. Who can forget boxer Curtis Woodhouse’s reaction when plagued with abusive messages from a “fan” earlier this year? No one was expecting him to track down the culprit for a £1,000 reward, least of all the troll himself.

We mere mortals can be affected by this too. Remember the part of Bridget Jones’ diary where Bridget tells her boss she’s just come off the phone with the (long deceased) author F.R. Levis? Now imagine that happening in a place where thousands of people can see it. Employers regularly consult social media to find out what kind of people are coming to them for interview. Students on teaching practice change their names on Facebook religiously to hide their true identities not just from their students but their employees too.

Social media appearances have become akin to talking to your grandparents but we don’t always adhere to this. If you would never swear or be sexually crude in front of Nana dearest, how has it become the most acceptable thing to do online? Is it to get the recognition we crave so we can feel better about our insane thoughts? Is it for the entertainment factor? Or are we simply running out of things to say?

Aoife Bennett

Image credit: flickr via creative commons

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