review: The Etiquette of Social Media by Leonard Kim

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I have to say that I was pretty surprised by the plethora of undesirable reviews on this book. I can’t agree that this guide is any product of bad writing, uninteresting content, and/or irrelevance. I would think that one wouldn’t want to purchase a book called The Etiquette of Social Media unless they were genuinely interested in what this author had to say on the subject, but based on some of the negativity and borderline cruelty making its way into the reviews, I’m inclined to think that the very trolls this book warns against are the ones reviewing it. That being said, I never would have picked up this book if I wasn’t asked to review it because I have my own unique Social Media strategy and thus far it has worked for me, but for those who don’t, I think in some ways it offers up useful information.

Based on his wild popularity on Quora, leading up to his top-20 ranking on the platform, it’s no secret that Kim knows what he’s doing online. While I wouldn’t call this The Best Book Written on Social Media Ever, it is valuable for those who go blind onto Facebook or more importantly, Twitter, shooting out into the world whatever happens to be on their mind in one particular moment. Basically everyone I know on the Internet boasts the importance of positivity in Social Media – Facebook even screwed with feeds as a study – and this book agrees. Just because I don’t agree with the ideals that this book offers because, as I mentioned, I have my own strategy that no one else really seems to go with (except some authors), I think it has the potential to be valuable to those who, frankly, don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. I remember what it felt to go on Twitter the first time, and the entire thing made me miss MySpace.

I think Kim offers his recommendations via guidelines in a relatable way, by comparing etiquette in a real-world situation to the proper way to conduct yourself online, which feels like nothing short of the obvious way to do it, but clearly it is needed with the issues we have today with trolling and verbal abuse. A corporate manager of mine once told me that he had been speaking with a customer who was rude, abusive, and inappropriate on the phone, but when he went to meet with him in person, he was tame in comparison. He told me that most customers are that way; they’ll call you a cunt on the phone but would never dream of doing anything nearly as awful to any person if they were standing right in front of them. That is Social Media; it is easy to forget that there is a real person on the other side of that wire because you can’t physically see them. Kim sheds light on these basics of etiquette by reminding us that the way some of these users are acting is innapropriate at best, and of how easy it is for us to turn into one of them. It is in fact the most basic information that anyone with a computer or common sense could figure out, but if common sense was a thing that everyone had, then we wouldn’t have that problem. Furthermore, there are a lot of people (including me) that would rather get their reference material from a book than from Google, and The Etiquette of Social Media brings it to you wrapped in a neat, inexpensive package to use as a guide.

Lastly, I think the cover of the book is very powerful; I remember staring at it for longer than usual when it was given to me. Because really, that’s exactly what our world, in some ways, has turned into. Avatars and paper bags. I could update my profile photo on all my platform to a photo of Robin Williams, and suddenly that’s what I look like; that’s what people recognize me by. It’s realistic in a haunting way, but it is our reality.

Being told how to write books or how to act on a social platform is not my thing, but I don’t go around trolling people, either. We know that there are people that do, and I think that books like these are important for the cause of fixing problems like these that we do face in an Internet-based world. There are a few grammatical annoyances, but nothing too crazy. It’s a self-help book on etiquette, not on How to Win the Universe. Overall, The Etiquette of Social Media is pretty solid for what it is, and for those who need it.

***I was provided with a complimentary copy of this e-book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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