Social Media Boundaries: Don’t Cross the Line!

You just spent the last two hours telling your sister-in-law about everything that your husband does wrong. He never cleans up. He was late to work AGAIN this morning and you are worried that his job may be in jeopardy. The kids are driving you crazy and all he does is reinforce their negative behavior. Quite frankly, you are at your wits end and pretty soon you’re going to be bald from pulling all of your hair out!

Your sister-in-law comes to the rescue and gives you suggestions about how to motivate her brother to help out a little more. Soon you are less stressed and even looking forward to spending some quality time with your husband.  Your husband comes home from work and by the end of the night your family is all “lovey dovey” and enjoying the evening together.

After the kids are settled for the night you hop onto Facebook to get updated about all of the new things that are going on with your friends. Then to your utter dismay, you see your sister-in-law’s post from earlier in the day: “My brother is acting like a jerk again. Even his wife has had it up to here with him. When are you going to get it together, Jim?” – And of course she tagged your husband in the post. Are you kidding me? You are mortified!

If you have been on social media for any length of time, then you’ve probably experienced something like this before. I like to call it a “boundary breach.” You may have been a victim of the breach and perhaps you have also inadvertently caused the breach a time or two.

In the real world, most of us know about boundaries. Sure there are a few people who are still getting the memo about what is appropriate and what is not during social interactions, but for the most part, people understand social boundaries. However, in the social media world, the boundaries have not yet been so clearly defined – especially with family. So, to prevent “boundary breaches” and unnecessary chaos, here are four ways to maintain healthy boundaries with family while on social media.

Watch your friends

There is no law that says that you have to accept every friend request that you receive. Your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram account, etc. is just that – yours. You get to decide who comes into your online world. So if there is someone in your family who you truly believe should not have access to your pages, then do not accept the friend request. Will this cause some waves? Maybe. But eventually it will blow over. Creating that boundary now is better than having to constantly put fires out later. Be kind about it but be empowered enough to set the limit

Mind your own business

If it affects other people, then don’t post about it. What’s going on between your sister and her husband is not your concern (unless someone is being hurt, of course.) And it surely is not the concern of masses of people on Facebook. Focus on what is going on in your world and not the world of others.

Friend your kids

Yes, I absolutely believe that you should be on all of the social media platforms of your children. Just as you monitor their activities in the real world, you should keep an eye on their online activities as well. Keep in mind that this is not a license to embarrass your children. If you see something inappropriate, you should address your child offline and have him/her change it. You want to monitor your children – not embarrass them.

No venting

Facebook is not the place to air your dirty laundry. If you have an issue with a family member, talk to them directly and privately. And if someone has written negative things about you, don’t fight on Facebook. YOU be the grownup and approach your family member for a discussion. And if you don’t see it ending well and it’s really not that serious, then ignore it and move on. Remember, words only have as much power as you give them.

The social media world can get a little frustrating – but these four tips can help you set appropriate boundaries with family. This beats having to do some real damage control later on.

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