To share or not to share? Ethics of socialising for geeks and non-geeks;)

I have just read @Lucyinnovation’s recent blog post on the ethics of sharing and I think it is a really good kick off for a larger discussion. I am placed in an interesting position between really highly experienced programmers, designers and social media marketers (early adopters); people who use social media tools and mobile devices to share with their smaller networks and my closest friends who use the Internet to the bare minimum. I think we need to learn to find the balance between off-line and online experiences and learn to communicate our personal take on those. Sometimes I really feel like just sitting with a cup of coffee in front of my amazing window with the view on the garden. Sometimes I feel like just switching the audioboo on to share the sublime noise of nature out there knowing that at least two of my good friends will be happy about that note. I do however agree with Lucy that we tend to be exposed to situations in which some of our friends tend to navigate over more to their interest in social spaces and technology itself than the very off-line experience itself. As I am making public the “Blog a Life” page of this blog preparing for sharing the process of my book writing, I think about the chapter on social interactions and ethics.

I usually apply the rule of “let’s talk about it”. It is actually something I have learned from on-line interactions more than anything. If I see a friend checking in on Facebook I ask them “what are you doing?” And move to instructions:”please do not tag me in your FB check-in” or “please mention that I am here too, so I do not have to do it and we can have a proper chat now”. If my friends talk too long about very “heavy”, geeky topics and I am not up for it, I give them time to enjoy it and when appropriate I am open about navigating the topics towards other areas of life. When I used to work as a technician for Nokia, we used to spend entire evenings chatting about the newest devices, software upgrades, testing new video and photo features, playing with at the time new true ringing tones…I felt almost trapped unable to move beyond Nokia world of conversations!  So I know how it feels and I do see it on a daily basis in public conversations.

What to do? Let me give you few starting points:

1. Asses quickly the situation and investigate others attitudes and needs – the best approach is to simply talk about everyone’s approach to social media and mobile sharing. Be respectful. Ask your friends about their take on the matter.

2. If you predict photo, video content or potential for geo-tagging (areas of social sharing that involve your privacy) state clearly your take on it. Educate others on how they can access and use your video, photo content for their own posts after the meeting/event. Let them know your take on Facebook tagging.

3. Express your own take on the balance between off-line and virtual in particular situation. Manage other’s expectations. Tell them how you feel about the fact they are typing on their phone. Ask them if it’s ok to post if you intend to do so.

4. Remain relevant. Do not preach. It takes a second to discuss constant texting or a small Facebook check-in. Move on to the quality off-line experience as soon as possible.

5. Enjoy the quality time and ensure others are able to do so too.

I guess it is a valid question though – to what extend do we need to accept other’s sharing habits fully? What if we really want to have 100% of their attention? Do you find yourself in a situation when it’s difficult to express your take on the fact that others talk to you with their mobiles on the table? (I still find it rude to see the device itself in some situations!). What are the best ways to handle any possible conflict?

I would love to know your thoughts!

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