Know Your Selfie Etiquette

An image of women taking a selfie in front of the tragic East Village explosion has sparked outrage – and rightfully so. It’s just wrong and in the poorest taste possible.Selfie_NoNo

Unfortunately, instant clicks of a smartphone photo and vanity often lead to poor judgement. People become enthralled with being part of the action and need to share the moment with their friends and followers. But an accident scene? Really?

I witnessed the same lack of selfie etiquette a few weeks ago after a young man was hit by an R train at Union Street. As we evacuated the train, dozens of commuters were happily snapping photos of the incident. Luckily, a police officer on the scene began discouraging riders from taking pictures but not before the troubling images hit people’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.

People need to think before they click. It’s as simple as that. Why would a particular image be worth sharing? What would people have to gain by seeing your selfie? Are you dining at a hot new restaurant? Celebrating your engagement? Did you just meet Brad Pitt? Okay, those kinds of selfies are acceptable.

People need to remember that selfies are meant to be social. It’s the “social” in social media. Just as singer Mat Kearney took a selfie with the audience at the New York concert I attended last week, or Ellen DeGeneres’ infamous Oscars’ selfie – selfies are meant to make people feel like part of an event; to promote bonding; a common experience (and of course, it doesn’t hurt marketing, either).

But when it comes to an accident site, there’s definitely nothing worth smiling over. Village Idiots, indeed.

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When smartphones aren’t so smart

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about digital distractions in social settings. While texting dinner partners is still a common sight, I can’t help but notice the same behaviors taking place in business settings.

Enter a clothing store, the sales help are on Facebook. I’m at the gym, and the trainer is perusing Twitter while not one, but three clients are running on treadmills. Suppose one of the women had fallen or had become short of breath while the trainer’s head was down? Not only is that bad business etiquette, it’s just not safe.

I was dining in a restaurant recently and my friend failed to get the waiter’s attention because he was staring at his phone, no doubt on Facebook, or checking his texts. The restaurant wasn’t even busy – all he had to do was remain attentive to our table. But he was more interested in the contents on his screen – a smart phone, but a dumb move on his part. He is working for tips after all. And we haven’t been back since.

This brings me to my point – if you’re running a business establishment – a clothing store, a gym, a restaurant – you’d better make darn sure your employees are doing their jobs. If patrons feels ignored, it will impact your business. They will not be rushing back to give you any business.

If you’re a business owner or manager, it is important to establish digital guidelines for your staff from the get-go. You don’t necessarily have to ban electronic devices during work hours, but it is good practice to limit smartphone use. If you work in retail, check your phone during your break. If you’re a personal trainer, wait till after your sessions to check your messages.

While staff may be annoyed by the restrictions initially, they have to understand the bigger picture. If customers see they’re engaged, then they will be engaged. It’s as simple as that. Satisfied customers come back; unhappy ones take their business elsewhere.

Has technology made us lazier communicators?

Remember when we used to wait by the phone to ring or when we checked our answering machines when we got home, in anticipation of a special phone call? We relished the communication and our hearts skipped a beat when we heard the person’s voice.

Now, it’s Facebook. Or Twitter. We get a ping. Or a poke. Or a Like.

HiRes

We don’t get a Happy Birthday phone call but there’s a post on our walls. Any recognition is nice, of course, but what’s missing is the personal aspect of communication. I won’t dwell on this too much because by now, there have been countless articles and blogs about this. But a newer trend I have been noticing is that blogs and Facebook/LinkedIn posts have been getting less comments. But they are getting Likes.

Similarly on Twitter, you tend to see a lot of re-tweets or favorites, but there are fewer conversations. And rather than personally messaging people to thank them for a follow, many tweeters are programming annoying auto-responses with a link to their websites. Boy, that’s personal.

My point: technology is resulting in less effort to communicate. It only takes a second to hit a Like button but to actually have to comment and participate in a back-and-forth conversation? Forget about it. People just don’t have the time these days. However, they do seem to have time to play Candy Crush or Pengle. Games win out over thinking and communicating any day.

Technology and social media are great, but through all our gadgets, texting, and tweeting, we mustn’t let our brains turn to mush. We need to remember to keep engaging, keep conversing, and keep building the relationships that we want to grow. We need to actually be SOCIAL.