The internet is a democratic space. (For most of us. Not all of us. Hello, China.) So rock your Instagram however you want. Herein, I’m stating how I personally prefer to operate on the interwebs.

Two things. First, the gentle thing: I’d love for all of us to consider the ENERGY of what we’re putting out there – especially where permission/no permission is concerned. Because…it matters.

Secondly – and this is where my righteous judgment (and good taste) enters: We all need to be on Asshole Alert when it comes to some of the online liberties that are being over-exercised. If you think, “Hey, all’s fair in the digital world and I’ll do what I want,” well, that’s just not very grown up. That’s just very asshole.

Considerations for online etiquette and energetics, and calling bullshit when you need to:

The Golden Rule
Refresher: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus says, Thank yooou. He would have been a total gentleman on Facebook.

PERMISSION + kid’s images
If someone posted a picture of me sleeping on to Facebook, I’d be pissed. I’d feel violated. Not good. Is it just me, or for most people is sleep, like, a private thing? ‘cept parents love to post pics of their kids asleep. And being potty trained. And having tantrums. (I wouldn’t want my tantrum and tears posted online either.) Luckily, I have a grown up voice and can make sure that shit doesn’t happen.

I wonder if a child even KNEW that his/her image was being posted (and what that meant in terms of exposure), and knew WHAT was being posted, and had the capacity to express how they FELT about it…I wonder if they’d be all like, “Sure mama, please post pictures of me sleeping and crying and losing my mind.”

Energy. Psyches. Exposure. Tenderness. Worth considering.

PERMISSION + adult strangers’ images
There are times I’m tempted to snap a secret pic of a fashion faux pas to make a point. Last week I really wanted to post this guy’s silly weeny teeny man bun and give a whole decree as to why this trend needs to die – immediately. But…would I like to have my lady fun bun captured at the grocery store, or be someone’s ass pic of the day? Even if you didn’t see my face? Nooooooo. Nope I wouldn’t. Golden Rule. No bad pics of me, no bad pics of you. This is playing nice in the universe. Because we’re all sharing the same universe. And fiber optics.

Minor infraction: Posting an image of hard copy communication. For example…I’ve sent people Thank You cards or encouragement notes and they’ve been posted online. I understand that accolades are good for business. But it’s my note to you – not the world. If I wanted everyone to see it, I would have taken a picture of it and posted it before I sent it to you – that would be called an endorsement, or a grand gesture of affection. But if it’s my note to you, it’s just, you know, my note to you.

Major infraction. Official Asshole Alert: “Professionals” posting someone else’s communication to them – WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION – such as a client or customer. But “out of respect” deleting the sender’s name – all the while totally dismantling the sender and making a public example out of them.

Of course there are types of disharmonious communication that should be made public – it’s part of justice, and whistle blowing, and putting people in their place. I’ve used my own platform more than once to make a point about crap service and unethical behaviour.

But innocuous communication – a client query, a customer service interaction where YOU are being looked to for a service of some sort – these things are in the container of your business. CONTAINER. As in, meant to be contained. It doesn’t matter if the sender is naive, or nuts, or has entitlement issues. To “call them out” albeit “anonymously” (like that’s really protecting them, like they’re not going to see how you’ve splayed their words on your blog), to call them out is beyond arrogant. It’s actually…unkind.

I’ve been harsh and less than deeply considerate before. I was striving and I was stressed and I decided to pretend that I didn’t know that energy turns into matter. Eventually, hopefully, one starts to choose elegance over ego.

Manners matter. More than clicks and endorsements and being all fucking boss about your positioning.

All communication begins with intention.

Be intentional. Better yet, be intentionally kind. Or just be quiet.