Just. Be. Nice. In Social Networks, and Your Life.

This is your social networking captain speaking. As you may know, I do a little advising of it for a living. It's basically unspoken rules in how to be polite online, how to not pester but get a message across, that sort of thing. Here's the deal people. In today's world, everything is connected. If you are a teenager, or just having come out as an adult, your social networks need to be cleaned up. I don't care what you say, and I hear you saying it: "But I won't accept any friends who are bosses, so I don't care! I'll put that beer mug in my profile picture if I want to! I'll swear to my friends! I'll do anything I want!"

Fine. You do that, but I warn you: You will be found out.

Let's focus on Facebook. If you don't accept your mom, or your uncle, or your boss, you may have accepted a friend of theirs, who can see everything that you do. Every little comment you leave on a friend's trail of photos. Every slanderous statement you make about a friend behind their back to your other friends. Every snarky little comment you make, every permiscuous comment, it is very, very possible for it to get to the person you are not intending. Whether you have blocked non-friends from seeing it in your Privacy settings, you still have accepted some friend, somewhere, who will read it, and verbally report back, or second-hand see a comment because they are a direct friend.

As for current adults on Facebook, people can speak behind people's backs, and possibly feel safe. They can revert back to childhood, and say mean things about people. Unfortunately, in moments of nostalgia, friends who may not have been friends with people in childhood will find each other in Facebook and run through fields of green, into each other's arms, and click "Accept" when it comes to acecpting new friendship with each other.

Trouble is, these friends are all connected on the internet, so they see every little dribble of words you intend to be private. Heck, even Twitter makes mistakes, flakes out, and publishes DMs (direct messages) every now and then. Oops. So when friends are indirectly connected with each other, word travels fast. Conversations you never had directly with someone can be known to them in an instant. Pieces of the puzzle can be fit together and revelations made and questions created.

Facebook is a scary place in that regard. If you're going to be mean. If you are going to have a sliver of mean-ness, and if you care about that, it is possible that all of the wrong people see that. It is possible that Google sees it and now your information is floating all over search results. Do you remember when I blogged about that celebrity without asking his permission? And how fast he learned? And how fast his laywers sent me a scary PDF?

That's right. Be nice people. Be nice. If you are not nice, the Facebook Santa will find out, and he will bring you coal.