WSJ Complains of TMI, Wants You to Use Social Media Responsibly


If you Facebook or Twitter unseriously, says the Wall Street Journal, you may be ruining your friendships. Also you’re a narcissist, according to one of her sources, a “manager for a chain of hair salons and spas in Seattle.”

You thought these things were toys or timewasters? Columnist Elizabeth Bernstein wants you to know they’re dangerous weapons in the hands of indiscriminate users, and she doesn’t want to hear any claptrap about what you ate or anything else that doesn’t rise to the level of breaking news. Like the spa manager says, “Why is your life so frickin’ important and entertaining that we need to know?” Read on and learn what does and does not make the grade.

Bernstein approves of social media as vehicles for status updates on seriously injured friends, but very little else rises to her standard. Posts like “Anyone know a good restaurant in Berlin?” give her cold shudders. (Buy a guidebook, slacker!) “Amidst all this heightened chatter, we’re not saying much that’s interesting, folks,” she says.

Also unacceptable: interesting information your fastidious FBFs might not want to know. “James Hills discovered that a colleague is gay via Facebook, but he says that didn’t bother him,” she reports. “It was after his friend joined groups that cater to hairy men, such as ‘Furball NYC,’ that he was left feeling awkward.” Then there’s the “particularly masculine-type dude” who started linking to kitten videos. Really, it’s a wonder anyone uses social media at all. What if one of our friends says he’s feeling lonesome and (yuck) needs a hug? No wonder the Marines banned this stuff.

Many readers will wonder whether Bernstein has seen the “remove connection” and “block” buttons on these sites. Indeed she has, but “these are really just Band-Aid tactics,” she says. “To improve our interactions, we need to change our conduct, not just cover it up.”

We see both where she’s coming from, and where this is going: Where once we could only expect lectures on appropriate use of the internet from employers, we may now expect them in our private lives. Facebook and Twitter posts should be carefully pre-examined, like interoffice memos, lest we offend others and shame ourselves.

The chances of this catching on are slim at present, so maybe our social media betters should develop their own, separate venue, which will filter out LOLcats and other sub-par material. They could call it DrySpace.


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