How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

It's high time we all started paying closer attention to our social media behavior.

It's high time we all started paying closer attention to our social media behavior.

A new survey from VitalSmarts has uncovered something that should come as no surprise to frequent users of social media. (And these days, that's just about everyone.) The study reveals that one in five people have lessened their contact with someone in real life on account of a virtual argument. You know the type....the uncle who aggressively posts  about politics on Facebook. The high school friend who shares jokes that are racist. A work colleague whose Tweets are laced with naughty innuendos. What's notable here is that what many of these folks post online are thoughts they wouldn't dream of uttering aloud. But sit them at a keyboard and all bets are off.

Facebook's been around since 2004, and open to everyone over the age of 13 since 2006. The latter year is also when the world met Twitter. You'd think we'd have gotten the hang of this by now. But the opposite appears to be true. The same VitalSmarts survey indicated that 88 % of social media users think people are ruder online than they are in-person. On the one hand, that's a good thing, I suppose....I'd rather be the recipient of virtual rudeness than live rudeness! And yet, kindness costs nothing...particularly in the virtual arena.

The time is now for all of us to make a commitment to being nicer when we log on. Think twice before you post....if you wouldn't say it face-to-face, don't say it monitor-to-monitor. Besides, if we don't start acting nicer online, we may soon find we have thousands of friends on Facebook and absolutely none in the real world.

For more insights, follow me on Twitter @MisterManners.