Just a few years ago, I was pretty much a social media neophyte. I’d only joined Facebook because my girlfriends from undergrad planned our annual adventures through that medium. At the time, I’d have been perfectly happy to stick with email.
My opinion on social media has since evolved, and like most of us, I could easily lose days of my life reading updates, laughing at memes and watching videos. I’ve met amazing people and become part of communities that have come to mean so much to me (shout out to Pantsuit Nation!). I even found a fun new pastime (trolling the trolls, which not something I actually recommend doing and have since stopped). But as I engaged in this brave new world, I also met a lot of people who apparently lacked all basic social decorum. I’ve had to unfriend people I knew in real life (in most cases, we’ve stayed friends) and block the crazier ones.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
When you accept a friend or connection request...
Social media is both a bonanza and a bane. It’s useful to stay connected to family and friends. And it’s great to grow your professional network. In fact, when you’re starting out, it’s natural to want to accept EVERYONE who wants to friend, connect or follow you. However that’s not always a good idea, because when you’re not discriminating, social media can become your bane.
People who do not have a business or don’t do much business online tend to be a lot more picky about who they accept as friends on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, see everyone as a potential customer. Networking for the purpose of activism—a trend that’s growing—is a hazy middle ground between the two extremes.
For the purposes of this article, I will use the term “friend” to also include whatever the connection is called on other social media platforms, like “connection” on LinkedIn or...