Emily Post & Dinner Party Etiquette with Social MediaThis post is a bit of a rant, so bear with me and you’ve been warned. There used to be some sage dinner party advice “never discuss politics, sex, religion or money.” The reason? Because politics, sex, religion and money can be complete party killers. In the blink of an eye a few words can put a screeching halt to what was otherwise a top notch evening. That said, assuming you are among rational human beings who can take a bit of criticism or a differing opinion, these topics can also make for fascinating discussions.

With social media there is an unfortunate façade of anonymity. Regrettably some people don’t care about your opinion because any opinion differing from their own is moronic. If these same people were sitting at the same dinner table together, they’d likely not say a peep or at the very least would try to articulate their opinions in a far more polite way. Not the vitriol they typically spew when making a comment or posting their opinion in the heat of the moment. Tolerance of differing opinions or even the old “Agree to disagree” adage seems to have collapsed in social media.

I’m even more surprised when I see independent freelancers or business owners do this. Posting on any of these topics can potentially lead to lost business opportunities particularly when you are taking a severely polarizing point of view and are posting it publicly.

Some people forget to breathe and think before they post. Words can easily get misconstrued because there is no “tone of voice” in words. There is no body language behind your words. There’s just the words. Unless I REALLY know a person and their sense of humor, I rarely comment or post. I don’t ever want anything I say to be taken personally or to let it get personal because of something I wrote being taken out of context.

Emily Post would be rolling over in her grave if she were aware of the modern social media world. Miss Manners would have been appalled at how conversations have unwound online. The growing sense of invulnerability people feel posting online is all smoke and mirrors. Maybe it’s a potential client who chooses a different service provider because of something a person behind the brand posted yesterday. Or perhaps it’s an employer passing on an applicant because of what that applicant posted several years ago. Either way, a venomous comment in the heat of the moment delivers lasting damage.

I told you it was a bit of a rant. Agree or disagree? I’m happy to discuss and debate, I just prefer to do it over coffee or a beer.


Eric Guerin is the founder of Adelie Studios. He chooses to use his creative powers for good and not evil by helping businesses to better market themselves using animated marketing videos. He can easily be bribed with coffee. Read more of Eric’s posts