Sunday, November 27, 2016

Must I tell a Facebook friend I dumped him?



Lots of people are using social media. If you believe the reports, Facebook now has 1.79 billion, WhatsApp has 500 million, LinkedIn has 467 million, Twitter has 284 million, and Instagram has 200 million monthly active users.

On each of these sites, users build a network of friends, contacts, or followers who can see whatever they choose to share on their accounts. Likewise, users can see on their own feeds whatever their friends, contacts, or followers choose to post on their own accounts.

While on some social media platforms it's possible to adjust settings so that you remain friends but not see everything everyone else posts on your own feed, some users grow weary when those in their network are overzealous in their postings. Too many photos of what they ate for lunch, or videos of perky cats dancing to Bruce Springsteen songs, or articles about political candidates they loathe or love can push some social media users to want to remove someone from their network or, if their posts have been perceived to be offensive, to block them.

A reader, let's call him Joe, recently decided that he'd had enough of a friend of his posting suspect news articles to Facebook and chose to unfriend him. "He was a Facebook friend," Joe says, "not a friend friend."

Unfriending someone on Facebook is as simple as clicking a couple of buttons. The unfriended doesn't receive any notification he's been dumped. The only way the friend could discover this is if he notices he's not seeing posts from Joe on his own Facebook feed anymore, or if he goes to Joe's profile page and notices that they are no longer identified as friends.

"Is it wrong for me to have dumped him without telling him?" Joe asks. "If his posts were enough to make me not want to be connected to him anymore, should I feel obligated to tell him that's why I unfriended him?"

Many social media users regularly clean their lists of friends, contacts, or followers. Sometimes they do this because they no longer have a desire to see whatever those people post. Sometimes, they simply can't remember who the person is or why they are connected to begin with.

While Joe's Facebook friend might be hurt or surprised that he and Joe are no longer friends, Joe is under no obligation to tell him or anyone else on his social media networks if he decides to sever ties.

If Joe (or you) are so offended by something someone in your network posts that you believe it's important to take a stand and let him know that you found a post offensive, then by all means, take that stand. But if you've simply tired of seeing posts of a particular type and relegating that person to those to whom you are still connected but who don't show up on your feed doesn't feel like enough, then you have every right to dump them while feeling no remorse for doing so.

It's up to each of us to decide just how social we want to be on social media and with whom we want to be social. 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of www.jeffreyseglin.com, a blog focused on ethical issues. 

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@comcast.net. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

(c) 2015 JEFFREY L. SEGLIN. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Facebook Live: Q&A: How to talk politics with family


On November 22, I sat down with Matt Cadwallader of Harvard Kennedy School's public affairs office to talk about how to talk politics with friends and family.

 If you missed the Facebook Live Q+A, a video of it appears below.
 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What's my bracelet really worth?



Several years ago, M.C.'s home insurance broker advised her that she should consider having any valuables she had at home appraised just in case there was a theft or damage to the property. M.C. took the advice and contacted a local jewelry store to do the appraising. She left her jewelry at the store and a week or so later she received the appraisals which M.C. filed with her insurance company.

Among the items M.C. had appraised were several pieces of jewelry she had purchased or received as gifts over the years -- an assortment of rings, bracelets and necklaces. One of these pieces was an art deco bracelet with amethyst and small diamond chips in it that her mother had found years before and had given M.C. after she commented that she liked it.

When the appraisals came back, the found art deco bracelet was determined to be a white gold with amethyst small diamond chips and valued at $450. M.C. was tickled that a bracelet she had no plans to sell and that was found on the street by her mother had such value.

Several years passed. M.C.'s still occasionally wore the bracelet, but not as frequently as she had before since the safety latch never held closed consistently and it proved a nuisance to keep on her wrist.

One morning as she was reading her daily newspaper over breakfast, M.C. saw an ad from a jewelry store announcing that it was doing free appraisals. The store was a different one from the one that had done the appraisal several years before. M.C. had the day off from work, so she decided to go downtown to run some errands and to pop into the jewelry store to see how much the bracelet might be worth now.

The clerk greeted her, admired the bracelet, and then told M.C. that he wasn't really sure what metal the bracelet was made of. "First, he told me he thought it was 14-karat gold," M.C. writes. If it is, it'd be worth about $130, he told her. But then, he asked M.C. to hold on and he went and retrieved a small vial. He used a dropper to drop some liquid on the bracelet. After a few seconds of looking over the bracelet, he asked her to wait while he consulted with his manager.

When he returned, the clerk told M.C. that they thought the bracelet was gold filled and had no value. M.C. never mentioned the other appraisal to the clerk. She thanked him and went about her day.

"Now, I'm wondering," she writes, "if the bracelet is stolen or if it gets destroyed in a house fire or something, am I obligated to tell my insurer that this other jeweler didn't agree with the first appraiser?"

The right thing is for M.C. to feel just fine about sticking with the original appraisal. The first appraiser took time to study the bracelet and then returned a detailed written appraisal to M.C. The second jeweler, which ran the come-in-and-get-your-stuff-appraised ad as a gimmick to lure customers into the store, seemed unsure and never wrote up an official appraisal.

While she still has no plans to sell the bracelet, M.C. can rest easy knowing that the official appraisal on record with her insurer is one that can be trusted. 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of www.jeffreyseglin.com, a blog focused on ethical issues. 

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@comcast.net. 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 

(c) 2015 JEFFREY L. SEGLIN. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Talking Politics Over Turkey

For those wrestling with how to have a civil discussion over a holiday meal, a discussion with HKS PolicyCast