My House, My Rules

Most people who know anything about me at all know that I’m pretty easygoing. I’m a happy person, upbeat and optimistic, and it tends to take a lot to make me truly angry.

One of those things that gets to me is someone trying to tell
me what to do in my own space.

rainbowsofa_SalvatoreVuonoIt’s kind of funny, actually. I don’t know anyone who would walk into my house and tell me I have to repaint the walls, or buy new furniture, or even move to a different place just because the visitor doesn’t like the way I’ve done things. It’s my house, so I get to choose how it looks.

Why do people seem to have no compunction about horning in when we’re talking about online spaces?

Yes, yes, online spaces are public, so there are some general civility guidelines to consider. I can gossip about the crazy lady down the street all I want in my own living room, but it wouldn’t be kosher to stand in the middle of the street and yell it to the whole neighborhood. If I like thrash metal, I can thrash metal all I want in my house, but hooking up my stereo to outdoor loudspeakers would be a different matter.

But in general, on my social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook, and wherever else I go—I have every right to decide what I see and choose the people I interact with. If I see someone posting things that annoy me, or offend me, I don’t have to sit there and watch it happen. Social media comes with these handy-dandy little tools like unfollow. Or unfriend. Or block. Even hide and mute, for things that aren’t as major.

I am not required to let anyone who wants to come into my virtual living room and mess up the way I have things set up. It’s my space. The only person who controls what goes into it is me.

Let me be perfectly clear here: this is a two-way street. Just as you don’t have the right to tell me what I can and can’t put in my space, I don’t have the right to tell you what you can and can’t put in yours. If you post something I don’t like, I can hide it, or unfollow you, or otherwise get it out of my space, without requiring you to remove it from yours. I’m not going to report a post on Facebook (as one example) unless it’s something truly reprehensible—like child porn, or a call to kill homosexuals. (In which case I will report, block, and tell everyone I know to do the same.)

Social media can be a huge timesink. Most of us have to make decisions all the time about how much we can put into it. I ignore the vast majority of event and page invitations on Facebook. I rarely follow back on Twitter without an established relationship. I do accept most Facebook friend requests, but I unfollow people regularly.

None of that means I have anything against the people behind those pages. It just means I need to keep my space neat enough that I can deal with everything.

I have certain preferences for how I think social media should be used. I’ve written about some of those in the past, and I probably will in the future. What I’m not going to do is get up in your virtual face and tell you off for not following them. If you’re doing something that annoys me, I’ll react in one of two ways: ignore it, or ignore you.

And that’s okay.

That’s my point, really. Whatever I decide to do with how my space looks is okay. Same for you. Neither of us is required to continue receiving content we don’t want or need. Whether it’s something innocuous like game invitations or something more serious like political discussions, you have every right to follow along or not.

And so do I.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

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