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Unspoken etiquette on social media

Since many people with chronic illnesses are involved in various online communities, it is important to address the need to be internet savvy. The internet is a wonderful resource for information, support, one's leisure and entertainment.

Social media allows housebound people to stay in touch with friends and family, but few might be aware of the "unspoken etiquette", especially on places like Facebook. Take parents, for example, who might be accepted as "friends" by their adult children on Facebook and assume this is a "warm welcome" for ongoing interaction with their kids on Facebook; well, it really is not (in most cases).

Adult children want to maintain their privacy, even on a social networking site, and use it as a place to primarily "hang out" with their peers. They won't be too thrilled to have their comings and goings be followed and "liked" by their parents.

Some things are implicitly viewed as being taboo, which include too many comments being posted by the parents on their kids' Facebook wall; clicking too often on the "like" button (which leaves the impression that Mom or Dad are watching their activity a bit too closely); "tagging" their adult children (or anyone else, for that matter) in photos without permission; and posting private family plans, news or other information on Facebook.

These features, "like", "tagging" and "share" are just some of the built-in tools on Facebook, which actually help to broadcast and/or further circulate a post or picture—in other words, these highlight activity on timelines, profiles, and in news feeds by the links that are automatically created and travel with the post or image.

When one stops and thinks about it, Facebook provides a window into the lives of adult children, relatives, friends, neighbors and other people which, in real life, does not readily exist. How much does it really matter to know what one's friends or neighbors are having for supper?