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    Social Norm vs. Social Media Norms: Are they the same?

    Title: Social Norm vs. Social Media Norms: Are they the same?

    Date: 10/6/2013


    This blog entry is about how I interpret social media norms and how it follows and detracts from social norms.  I use a few examples that will give you some guidance.  That all being said, I am not a sociologist nor psychologist.  The mere fact that I am neither of those gave me pause in even writing this blog post.  HOWEVER, my undergrad psychology classes, graduate/undergrad marketing classes, and first-hand knowledge of social media allow me to write this post.  We could add common sense, team-work experience, and remote employee to the conversation.  Ok, enough with the academic and professional background.

    I’ve been thinking about writing a blog about how the bell-curve illustrates life in many ways.  You have the average person, that follows societies norms somewhere in the middle 68-95% of the population.  Then you have the radicals/extremists/non-conformists on the outer two-tails.  For those that ever took a statistics class, the picture I linked from Wikipedia below looks VERY familiar.

    Dark blue is less than one standard deviation away from the mean. For the normal distribution, this accounts for about 68% of the set, while two standard deviations from the mean (medium and dark blue) account for about 95%, and three standard deviations (light, medium, and dark blue) account for about 99.7%. (taken from


    So what kicked me in the butt to write this?  

    Well a fellow Twitter user, Jill, was approached out in public by one of her followers.

    Here is Jill’s Tweet ( a public tweet, and by the way I did Direct Message with @BuffaloJill, and received her ‘ok’ to use the screenshot below 🙂 )-


    From what I gather, a Twitter follower [we’ll call her person y] (A Twitter follower is somebody that follows another user’s Tweets, and the user doesn’t necessarily know the person in “real life”) randomly approached Jill.  Now I have no idea what was discussed, however Jill’s tweet suggests that it was unwanted and gave her reason for concern.  Something was “out of the Norm”.  Not normal.  Didn’t feel right.  Her gut told her something was up.

    What does norm mean?  According to Wikipedia it means, “Social norms are group-held beliefs about how members should behave in a given context”

    Interesting enough, other Twitter users replied to Jill that they also had blocked person y.  So now people are ostracizing person y.  Is this person socially inept?  Is she a stalker?  Who knows?  But one thing we do know, the person fell outside the norm.


    You can never be too careful using social media.  I suggest that you should err on the side of caution.

    Here are some rules of thumb that I use:

    • Do not put the year of your birthdate.
    • Limit your “check ins” (do not use your home as a checkin).
    • Do not use your personal email address in posts.
    • Do give out your personal cell phone in posts for everybody to see (use private or direct messaging).
    • If a “friend” or “follower” asks you for another person’s contact information.  Check with the other person first before giving out the information.

    Social Media Norms do follow Social Norms in some ways.  Such as, you shouldn’t give a perfect stranger your home address, birth date, and/or phone number.  Also, you NORMally wouldn’t walk up to somebody you have no idea with and start an intimate conversation.


    Following Social Media Norms:

    There definitely is a “fuzzy” area between Social Media Norms and Social Norms.  I’ve had on more than one occasion have somebody, in person, tell me how cute my kids are or congratulate me on something.  My “spidy-sense” or “gut” says first… whoa where did you know that from?  I alternatively try not to do the reverse to my Facebook friends.  The fuzziness is where people can lurk and see what you are up to on Social Media, vs. really attending in person (aka a Birthday Party, etc).

    After some thought, I suggest the 3 step process when posting on Social Media:

    Do I really know the person?

      1. If yes, then ok to comment
      2. i.      Is what I’m going to type going to be embarrassing or a personal nature to the person?
        1. If yes, then don’t comment on the persons wall or tweeter feed.  Rather send a private message or direct message.
        2. If No, then have at it.
      3. If no, then debate if you are intruding on their conversation
        1. i.      If you have any sense that it’s intruding, then keep a professional level comment or “like” the post.
        2. ii.      If no, then keep it still at a professional level or do not comment.


    There are varying degrees on how you know or interact with somebody on Social Media.

    • Immediate family (Parents, Siblings, Brother/Sister in Laws)
    • Brother/Sister in law’s Family or Extended family
    • Best friend
    • Close friend
    • Classmate/Coworker
    • Acquaintance (Level 2 of LinkedIn, Spouse’s coworker)
    • Follower
    • Total Stranger

    Just in a group setting there are norms with each of these social media groups.  I interact differently to each one of these categories.  What I mean by interact differently?  The degree of openness, candor, responsiveness, empathy, cautiousness, etc.  Even if somebody is in the Immediate family category, empathy or openness may be different if it was a Brother/Sister in Law vs. spouse or parent.

    Remember if something doesn’t feel right, red flags go up, or others feel the same way, then you may want to look at limiting or cutting off contact with the Social Media “follower” or “friend”.  Stay safe and use Law Enforcement if you feel like your are being harassed.

    Thanks for you time!  I plan on expanding the “There are varying degrees on how you know or interact with somebody.” in a future post.



    NOTE:  Remember, social media is “out there for everybody to see”.  Yes, there are “private groups” (Facebook) or Circles (Google+) that you can send messages within.  However, even these do not allow for complete privacy.  All it takes is a ctrl v and ctrl c (copy/paste) for whatever you posted to be public.   Or even Print Screen and paste.


    Please follow @myriad_of_ideas and @BuffaloJill on Twitter to see the entire conversation.





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