I’ve been blogging for 3 years, Facebooking for about 5 years and tweeting, on and off for about 2 years. It’s been quite an education. I’ve learned so much about myself and about others throughout all of these ventures. I LOVE it! I’m passionate about social media and believe in its power to make or break ones own personal “brand”.

I’ve been cyber bullied and bad mouthed and been the victim of a smeer campaign, you know, when a group decide to target you for some specific reason and the cattiness and bitchiness grows as the pack mentality grows. Its definitley a symptom of the anonimity that our online persona allows us.

If you’re an avid internet user you don’t have to look too hard to find examples of poor online etiquette.

Throughout it all, I’ve made lots of mistakes, I’ve attempted to defend myself against cyber bullies, I’ve attempted to justify certain behaviours. I’ve been invovled in lots of, in hind sight, silly online fights.

It has all been a learning curve for me. I’ve learned a lot. It’s changed how I conduct myself online and it has changed how I view how others conduct themselves online.

These are some of the rules I’ve made for conducting myself online:

1. Cyber-bullying: It’s NOT ok!

You don’t have to like everyone you come into contact with online and you certainly don’t have to agree with all the views and opinions expressed online. But that does not give you permission to embark on a bullying campaign. It does not give you license to go on a self righteous judging spree. You should not feel entitled to embark on a name calling, bad mouthing, bitch session. You should not feel encouraged by the mentality of your pack, making sure you sink lower than the lowest nasty, judgy, name calling comment.

I firmly believe in the old expression – if you don’t have something nice to say (or you can’t say it nicely) don’t say anything at all. I personally won’t buy into the – if you don’t have something nice to say, then sit next to me!

2. Calling somebody a Looser on Facebook makes you the biggest looser!

And makes sure I’ll unfriend you or hide your as quick as a flash! I can’t stand it when people sink to name calling and cat fighting on Facebook. It say so much more about ones own mentality than about the person you’re trying to call out. I’ve unfriended or hid a number of people on Facebook for this, depending on whether its a relationship I want to continue to invest in or not.

3. Differing opinions are ok!

Not everyone will always agree with my opinions and I won’t agree with everyone elses opinions either. This is perfectly ok. If somebody chooses to not agree with your opinion, then respect this fact. There is no need to try and force others into your opinion. Getting involved in an argument over differing opinions is about as helpful as an empty toilet roll. If you’ve expressed your different opinion, leave it at that, there is no need to try and force someone else to agree with you.

4. There Is NEVER a good reason to be nasty!

Nastiness is a trait I simply detest. It’s not in my nature to be nasty or spiteful for nasty or spiteful’s sake. I see it as completley unecessary and I simply don’t understand or tolerate it. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but nasty is not a label I chooose to wear.

5. The meaning of the written word can often be misunderstood or misconstrued.

So give the writer the benefit of the doubt. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t automatically assume they’re being nasty/stupid/spiteful/ a know it all. And don’t try to call the person out on it either – who made you the boss of the internet to do that? This I experienced first hand a few months ago. I said something quite innocently on Twitter and was literally attacked for it – and this from someone who is a social media “guru”. It left me stunned and embarressed as my motives had been totally innocent.

6. Don’t talk “shop” online!

I’m often shocked by the amount of times I’ve come across people bad mouthing their employer or saying mean things about their co-workers. Wanna get fired? I reckon it’s on of the fastest ways of finding yourself without a job. My online persona is completley separate from my profesional persona. I simply will not mix the two, it’s just asking for trouble. My job is not perfect but you can go back in my blogs 3 year history and you will not find one negative post about my employer or the company I work for. That is a rule that I made for myself right from the very beginning.

7. Unfriending/Hiding/Unfollowing the people you don’t like.

I have often found myself irritated, offended or annoyed by people I’ve come across online and have found that the most effective way of dealing with them is to hide or unfriend them on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter or delete them out of my blog reader. We’re all different and we’re never going to like everyone we meet online so why waste the energy blogs, tweets and status’s you find annoynig? I’ve found it a far less waste of my time to simply remove those elements from my viewing and its far better to assisting me in sticking with my online mantra of “being nice”!

I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot latley, as I navigate my way through the internet. I recently stumbled across an excellent article that really helped me solidify the rules I have for conducting myself online, you can go here to read The 11 Rules Of Social Media Etiquette its well worth the read.

What rules do you have for conducting yourself online?