Some people are notorious for poor online conduct. The sweet-tempered secretary who greets you at the office may have a nasty online persona. She is among the social media users who behave one way online, and quite another off.

Why the ‘split personality’? What are the effects of errant conduct on Facebook and Twitter?

Why do people misbehave on social media?

Psychologists attribute it to the Online Disinhibition Effect. Simply put, being on the internet and social media allows people to do as they please. Psychologist John Schuler goes a step further and breaks down the Online Disinhibition Effect. He gives six reasons for poor online conduct.

1. Anonymity

First of all, internet users can mask their identities online. It’s all too easy for a person to pretend that he or she is someone else. Therefore, they can, and often will do as they please.

2. Invisibility

Also, being invisible online make people too comfortable with their behavior. They are at ease because they don’t have to worry about looking awkward in front of others.

3. Communication is not instant

Furthermore, reactions on social media aren’t immediately visible. Face-to-face interaction usually deters people from doing as they please because of the fear of negative feedback.

4. Informal Conversations

Moreover, people use social media, well, to socialize. Interactions are informal. It’s not surprising that online conduct is uninhibited.

5. No Regulation

Finally, the internet and social media are, by and large, not regulated. No one makes another person responsible for what he or she does.

The Effects of Poor Behavior

The world of social media is mysterious. There’s a lot that’s left to the imagination. When in it, social media users behave just as they please, without considering how it impacts others.

First of all, you may think that an off-the-cuff remark that you made on Facebook is harmless, but it compromises a person’s well being. On the net or off, we interact with real people who have emotions. They will feel hurt when they receive too many online jabs.

Consequently, it leads to ill will. People will begrudge each other and indulge in a vicious cycle of vengeful, insulting posts.

Examples of Toxic Behavior on Social Media

Whether they are aware of them or not, social media users are prone to some unwanted behaviors and consequently, a vicious cycle of negativity.

1. Cyberbullying

First of all, many of these users indulge in cyberbullying. They mask their identities and vent their anger on people they dislike, often without reason. The anonymity offers protection, so they post nasty videos and images of their targets.

2. Shaming

Also, the fastest way to make a person look bad online is to shame them. Social media users tend to latch onto little misdemeanors and turn them into huge controversies. Of course, that leads to ill-will and negativity.

3. Trolling

The internet troll is the social media guest from hell. This person finds every excuse to discredit another on forums or social media. They will find something negative to say about the way a person looks or dresses. They’ll also criticize any work posted online viciously.

4. Gossiping

We live in an era of Fake News. Information, valid or otherwise, spreads like wildfire ever Facebook or Twitter in mere seconds. Just one negative rumor, true or not can change a person’s life in minutes.

Cyberbullying is the best illustration of this. A student posts a revealing video of his or her nemesis online. It circulates immediately, and the reaction to it is instant. The subject of the video may withdraw from school the next day.

5. Oversharing

Selfies are charming. Everyone takes them. They are healthy forms of self-expression. Sharing every detail of your life on Facebook, however, can lead to unwanted consequences such as trolling or cyberbullying.

6. Negativity

You may have come across people who use social media as a ranting platform. Their posts consist of long lists of complaints. Negativity, in all forms, is toxic and pervasive. It also perpetuates other unwanted behavior (cyberbullying, trolling, etc.)

Regulating poor behavior on social media

You can’t control what people say or do over social media, but you can te steps to protect yourself from it.

For a start, pay attention to your privacy settings. It’s worth spending time over who gets to see what you post on your timeline or Twitter feed. Also, limit the details you share. Make sure that you don’t post sensitive work details on Linkedin.

Furthermore, control your online comments. You’ll never know the reaction someone may have to something seemingly harmless. Remember that you can delete remarks that are out of line.

In all, social media users like you can enjoy platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin if they do so responsibly.

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