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In one of Chris Brogan’s latestest email newsletter he asks “Are You A Good Neighbor?” It is all about the sharing of other people’s content. Too often people will take content and repost it as their own. More than likely they don’t mean to be malicious, they just don’t think to give credit.

Brogan uses the neighbor analogy that neighbors are polite and we share. There are ways we do this online so that everyone benefits.

You can hear an audio version of his post by going to his or better yet, just subscribe to his newsletter .

Reading “Are You A Good Neighbor?” made me think about my interactions with friends through social media and how I sound when I make a post. With friends I tend to want to poke fun or be a smart alleck. It’s my nature. The problem is that without the nuances of voice intonation and body language some people might think I’m serious or just a jerk.

The other day I wanted to poke fun at an English friend who is a supporter of West Ham United in the English Premier League. My favorite team, Arsenal, had just beat them 5-1. I had written out a couple of sentences on Facebook when I stepped back to read what I wrote. There was nothing wrong with it but I realized what I said might have been taken wrong by his friends who also supported West Ham. I realized to them I might have sounded like a jerk. I thought it best to be a good Neighbor and I deleted my post.

Facebook tends to be that one social media platform that has the ability to ruin friendships or destroy business relations. It is far to easy to post a meme or a story that others will find offensive. We are a very diverse group of people and our beliefs could be quite different from our close friends and relatives. I have one friend from high school who posts some wildly offensive things (offensive to me). Luckily I know her well and realize that she is just doing a bad job of expressing her views. She is not being a good neighbor. Good neighbors edit well.

Unfortunately the use of social media puts us in a cone of silence. We don’t get that immediate feedback so we tend not to self edit. Take the car for instance. Who hasn’t become upset with another driver and maybe even yelled at them from behind closed windows. The car is a cone of silence. You probably didn’t think twice about it unless you have a 4 year old in the back seat who asks you “what’s wrong, Daddy?” Yep, it happens to me.

Have you noticed that if we are standing in a line and we get upset we don’t yell and scream at the people around us? Think of the hours we stand waiting for a drivers license or waiting for a ride at Disney World. We wait patiently. If someone can’t, they usually leave.

Next time you are using social media and you decide to rail against someone elses views or you want to make a sarcastic comment to a friend, step back and think how this is going to look. Your friend is not the only one who will see it. Future customers and employees may be searching for information about you and to see if you would be a good fit for their organization. You need to make a positive impression. I suggest you follow Chris Brogan’s advice and ask “Are You A Good Neighbor?”