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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Kristin J Johnson shares what inspired her to write her new social media etiquette book, Ain’t “U” Got No Manners.
Written by Kristin J Johnson
Born Before Social Media
I feel grateful I grew up before social media. My niece and nephew (high school and college aged, respectively) grew up with it to a large degree. In my own childhood there is a sense of freedom when I look back. I had a computer and computer games. I spent a lot of time writing on the computer. It was a tool and a distraction but not nearly the distraction—or the gift—that the Internet and cell phones have given us.
Even before social media, I was still aware of the downsides of the Internet. When I wrote an email without counting to ten first and walking away before hitting Send, it didn’t go so well. When I posted a comment on a message board that someone didn’t like, I got a reaction—luckily, I was able to handle it maturely by explaining what I meant and apologizing. Even before the Metaverse, presidents creating news with tweets, and “cancel culture,” I was aware that this thing we called the Internet needed to be used responsibly. Of course, everyone has their cringe-worthy moments on social media or using a cell phone.
It’s All About The Written Word
During my undergraduate and Master of Professional Writing programs, computers, online, and writing were intertwined. Communication is key. No matter what medium you use. That’s never been truer than today, in this chaotic world. Even our social media platforms talk about “Instagram Stories” and “Facebook Stories.”
Why Write Ain’t “U” Got No Manners?
I had dusted off a manuscript on manners and etiquette that my late editor/publisher found. I decided to modernize it and create a social media/technology etiquette guide. My late mother created the idea of hitting the “Think” button before you hit the “Send” button.
Although I’ve written many client books and contributed to many books since Ain’t “U” Got No Manners was published, this remains one of the books I’m proudest of because it represented a huge leap for me. A big step outside of my comfort zone. Mostly because I came at it not from a social media marketing perspective (even though I had done content and content marketing) or a psychology perspective (which I don’t have the credentials to do) but as a cultural observer and writer.
But why was the optimal timing for writing the book in late 2015 and 2016?
(1) The number one comment I got when telling people that I was writing about Internet manners was, “There are none!” Now it’s even worse. When you go on friendly neighborhood social networking sites and read comments from people flaming each other over what restaurant they like, it’s gotten out of hand.
(2) The 2016 US presidential campaign was heating up at that time, and social media was king—I’m not just talking about former President Donald Trump, although he grabbed the spotlight with his use of Twitter. Everyone in that campaign was using social media!
(3) At the time we had no idea about “deepfakes,” TikTok (which was released in 2016), Elon Musk trying to buy Twitter, or any of the stuff we’ve learned about. The book seems even more timely now!
Creating the Operating System
Computers, smartphones, iPads, smart watches, and other devices have operating systems. To my way of thinking, people need an operating system when they use social media and technology.
I focused each chapter on different social media and technology topics. Email, texting, “phubbing” or phone snubbing, Instagram/photos, Facebook, videos/YouTube, Internet scams and what we now think of as “fake news,” phishing, privacy breaches, exposing too much of your data online, Twitter, message boards and groups, online dating, and other topics.
The actual writing of the book happened over months in-between ghostwriting/writing projects, speaking gigs, and of course life. I conducted research while writing the book, including interviewing people and soliciting people’s experiences as well as getting permission to use some of the images, stories, and content in the book. I was able to talk to some amazing people. And the book was shaped during the writing and after by my creative collaboration with A Vegas Publisher founded by the late Joyce Spizer Foy and now headed up by Virginia Clark, and the cover/formatting designer, Deborah Bradseth of Tugboat Designs.
Fact Checking and Being Humble
As you might expect from a book about the Internet, the information I provided, including the links, kept changing. So did the culture. The key to finishing this book was to stay flexible, and fact check myself. I made mistakes but I did my best to correct my facts. I had to let go of my perfectionism because no book is 100 percent error free.
• Always Check Your Facts. This includes checking Internet site links in the references to make sure they were still valid, even six months after I added them. Content gets moved and sites close down all the time.
• No Sermons. No one likes to be lectured to. Instead, I tried to make the topic fun with an attitude of “we’re all guilty of this type of thing, we’re all human, let’s just relax.”
• Check Your Profile. Writing about being civil while texting or not sending something when I was emotional or posting pictures of people who would rather be private forced me to face my own behavior. I didn’t want to be hypocritical. It’s made me more conscious about what I put out there, and that is a good thing.
Find more from Kristin J Johnson now:
People can find my books at http://www.kristinjohnson.net. I’m not an etiquette coach, but I am a published author, screenwriter, and writing coach who helps people get their point across and identify the power of what they have to say. That is my strength. I’m also on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Kristin-Johnson/e/B002BLT1PG%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share, and LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristin-johnson-810345/.
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