By Marianne Beach, GalTime.com
He’s such a jerk…I hate my job…This is so boring…
If you’re on Facebook, you probably see this all the time. Angry people airing their dirty laundry for all the social media world to se. From divorce details to friendship fallouts to just good old TMI, it’s amazing what people will post on their walls.
But Richie Frieman, The Modern Manners Guy, warns, if you feel the urge to vent, step away from the keyboard–and fast. Or suffer the consequences.
“Have you ever been to a party or event and someone starts arguing in front of everyone? Then, you whisper under your breath how rude and uncalled for that was?” he says. “Well, when you blast people on Facebook, it’s as if you just got up in front of a room filled with every single person you know and aired your pissed off message to them. It’s highly inappropriate.”
Remember, no matter what your privacy settings, Facebook is essentially public. And your 800 “friends” are going to see every move you make. From family members to coworkers to your old elementary school chums who “just wanted to get back in touch”–everyone will witness your online meltdown.
“People forget how huge of an audience they are speaking to on Facebook. I mean, if a person has 300 or 1,000 friends, that’s A LOT of people who are listening to you.”
So, why is it so tempting to whip off a wall post in the heat of the moment? After all, most of us would never share what we share online face-to-face with minor acquaintances on our friends list. Richie says it’s all about flexing our social media muscles.
“People get very brave, opinionated and courageous when they sit down at their computers. It’s very easy to speak your mind when the person you are upset with is not in front of you,” he explains. “It’s like a suggestion box – if you are asked by a restaurant manager how the food/service was with the waiter in front of you, you’d probably say it was good. But if you had to fill out a survey in private, you’d be very honest. This ideology is natural.”
Natural, but also completely harmful. And your online bravery can cause devastating real life consequences to relationships:
“People get brave and it can really hurt others,” says Richie. “Like if you have a wall post that says, ‘That was the worst date of my life!’ Well, not only are you hurting the other person but now who would want to ask you out, fearing that if it’s not perfect, you’d post about them.”
“Like when you say how much you don’t want to go to a family function, or how you can’t wait for the one you are at NOW to end,” he says. “They are likely to see it and now they know you A) Didn’t want to go B) Don’t want to be there and C) Don’t care who knows how miserable you are.”
And then there’s the workplace:
“I have seen many people post statuses about their days at work that are awful,” says Richie. “‘My boss is a total BLEEP!’ ‘I can’t stand when Bill talks about nothing for hours, all day.’ ‘The next time Mary decides to wear that dress, she should just stay home.’ This happens a lot and can do tons of damage.”
Bottom line? Richie says, if you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, don’t say it on your wall. And this goes for oversharing as well as complaining.
“If you were to run into someone at the grocery store would you tell them you’ve been on the toilet for three straight hours? No way!” he says. “Someone posted this to their wall and I was floored!”
So what can you do when you’re mad as hell and sitting at your computer, ready to vent to the world?
“I recommend writing it down on a piece of paper or on a Word doc first,” says Richie. “Go nuts. Write everything you want to say and how you feel. Then step away. Come back to paper in like an hour. Read what you wrote, take deep breath and decide if you want to go public. If you do, read it and make sure that when you hit ‘post’ that you are sure you are doing the right decision.”