There is a trend in Social Media that kind of pisses me off. I’m wondering if it pisses you off, too.
Lots of memes are dictating REGIONAL social etiquette (see image). WHY is that? Social Media lives online – a.k.a. WORLDWIDE!
The uppity tone is giving me agida. It is as if you are “less than” if you don’t use their regional vernacular. So here’s my rant.
What’s disrespectful in one region may be normal in another.
I grew up in Tampa, Florida and was taught to use Mr., Mrs., and Miss as respectful titles, and not ma’am or sir. My dad was Air Force and the only sirs and ma’ams I knew were in uniform. If you were close to a friend of the family or neighbors, you respectfully added an Aunt or Uncle to their first name. It wasn’t until I moved to Atlanta when I was in my late 20s that I learned of the ma’am and sir protocol. Yes, I had heard this practice on TV, like on the Andy Griffith Show, but I had never experienced it in my places of residence – until I moved to Atlanta.
Yes, it made me feel old to be called Ma’am.
I was only 27 when I moved to Atlanta. And after decades here, it is still hard to hear someone call me ma’am. I didn’t raise my son with that practice because it is still foreign in its feeling to me. I am sure that is my military family history at fault for my discomfort, but to hear a little child say, “Yes, Sir” to an elder just seems strict and unnatural to me. But, that’s me and my upbringing. But you won’t see me making a meme about that!
In business, too?
Another difficult adjustment in Atlanta was the custom of holding the first 2-5 minutes of business conversation focused on social exchange. How’s your spouse, is Johnny enjoying his new school, heard you went to Hilton Head… etc… So, I had to learn this practice or run the risk of alienating southern business associates. Big adjustment for me as, in Florida, we practiced simple greetings, then on to business as, in that region, it was considered rude to waste another business person’s valuable time with what we considered time-wasting chatter. Again, regional differences…
Yes, I understand the desire to maintain one’s cultural differences. BUT, in today’s mobile society, let’s consider that perhaps it is disrespectful to expect a newcomer to assimilate so quickly and additionally, chastise them for it. The average home sale frequency is every 4-7 years as opposed to the old days when one lived most of one’s life in one place, so life is not the same as the slow, old days.
SOCIAL MEDIA lives everywhere – and behavior can’t be observed as mutually exclusive to your cultural region.
The only cultural differences in Social Media are in the different platforms – LinkedIn, Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. and that difference is a matter of tone, not language. Social Media has brought the world closer together in a shorter time than any time in history. Why would you try to enforce a cultural divide online?
So . . . Don’t take offense if I DON’T call you Ma’am or Sir, and I won’t take offense when you DO.
Thanks for listening!
Note: I just got a tweet from @supplies3D recommending I include N. Florida in the “Southern” way. He’s right. From Central Florida to South Florida you have mostly Northern U.S. transplants and their influence is deeply set. North Florida is very much like the old south.
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