Being Mindful of Appropriateness of Online Content


You post content on a regular basis and you are sensitive to what you can and cannot appropriately post online. With that in mind, you should share your knowledge with others who are not as aware of what to do. 

Discretion and a refined approach

Some subjects and even the delivery of certain subjects are appropriate and acceptable when presented in certain ways and some have the potential of offending other people. Of course, first and foremost, always be polite. You should always try to understand how your words will be received. Sometimes, the inappropriate content is screamingly obvious and sometime it is more subtle and you need to sit and contemplate whether it is acceptable to share it with other people or not. The last thing that you want to do is offend others or violate some online etiquette rule (written or just commonly understood).

There is a common misconception that it is acceptable to post certain content through social media channels that is clearly not appropriate in any other medium. Well, it is actually not acceptable through social media channels either. Social media has given people the opportunity to hide behind what they regard as a protective shield. They feel that whatever they post is ok and that there will never be any repercussions from that sort of communication. It isn’t that the people who are posting such content are bad people who have no idea how to distinguish right from wrong. The issue is that the same social skills and finesse that apply to face-to-face interactions don’t necessarily apply in the same way to online interactions. The behavior is still being honed for online interactions and it may take a while longer until the behavior has been refined to its final version.

Social media unfortunately doesn’t come with an established set of written rules so the code of behavior is still being established. Because of the nature of social media and the way in which members of social networking communities interact and behave online, the relationships that the people share are bound to be different than face-to-face interactions are and the way in which people relate to each other in person is different than the way that they relate to each other online.

The age of communication

The age of communication is upon us and the young people of today (Generation Z—people born from the mid-1990s until now) must be educated and nurtured in an age when communication is very different than it ever was in the past. For older generations of people, behavior when it comes to socializing online isn’t difficult and a great deal of the behavioral decisions are driven by common sense. When it comes to online privacy settings for friends, family members, and colleagues, it is simple to know what and what not to share with certain people. The broad rule is that every piece of content with which you have a connection should be socially acceptable and there should be nothing in there that could hurt you in any way. With the younger generations, don’t assume that they will automatically understand what is and isn’t totally appropriate.

The way in which younger people communicate seems inappropriate at times (at best) and crass or even damaging (at worst). The problem with that type of communication is that it goes beyond the person who is actually doing the communicating and is considered a reflection on other people who are associated with that person (parents, friends, etc).

The reality of perception

We all create perceptions of ourselves (consciously or subconsciously) and whether those perceptions are true or not, they are definitely someone’s reality. Although there is an expectation that teenagers are still learning how to behave on their journey to maturity, it is important to teach them what is acceptable and what is not acceptable online and creating a negative perception may have long-lasting effects that they really shouldn’t have to be faced with.


Whether a code of ethics and etiquette is written down or merely understood, it is just as real. Everyone online has to play by the same rules and the education is a critical part of the success of online communications. The fact is that social media, social networking, and online interactions are here to stay. Everyone just needs to make sure that their approach to online communication is done in the best way possible and in a way that is never offensive or insulting. If you treat people politely and respectfully, they will react positively to you and will react favorably to what you are saying. Remember, you really do catch more flies with honey than vinegar.


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Jonathan Cohn is a student of sociology at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. Jonathan offers a new perspective to the Blogs of CompuKol Connections because of his course of study and because of his experience and interactions with people from a sociological angle.

Besides having a passion for people, he also has a passion for music. He is a bass player and has played with several local bands in New York and New Jersey.

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