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Swiping Left on Bad Social Media Etiquette

Shahrin Shamim

Over the past decade, secondary school teacher, Michaela Laurentz, has noticed a huge a dramatic decline in students’ social skills.

“That’s why I decided to write the book, #GUYCODE. This lack of social skills happens to coincide with everybody having a smartphone and social media,” the author explains.

“I realised it promoted an inward-facing attitude rather than an outward facing one.

“The more time that passed, the more I saw the obvious repercussions: literacy levels dropping, the teenagers’ ability to concentrate plummeting, and so on.”

Determined to find a solution, Michaela turned to the advice of millennials themselves.

“I interviewed a lot of people from the ages of about 16 to 30 and really got to know what was going on,” she tells Peninsula Living.

“General etiquette and social skills seem to have fallen by the wayside, so I used my knowledge of these two things to work out a solution.”

Despite the book largely exploring the divides between online behaviour and real-life behaviour, Michaela believes “the way we behave online has to be the same as the way we interact in real life."

“These are just things we used to do that we seem to have forgotten that still apply because we have a screen in the way.”

However, the author doesn’t deny that technology has its benefits, but maintains that young people must remain wary of what they put up online.

“Social media is an amazing tool that we can use to share ideas and to connect with people across the world. It’s just about using it properly rather than being seduced into this false sense of celebrity,” says the peninsula local.

“We have to be aware that we’re creating permanent digital footprints and what we say and think now may change substantially within in one or five years.”

Along with providing tips on how to prevent the development of a harmful digital footprint, #GUYCODE also explores the rise of social anxiety due to increased social media and ways to gain confidence.

“We’re so used to applying filters and making sure our Instagram feeds are essentially the highlight reels of our lives,” she states.

“But in real life, if we act in a way that shows self-respect, respect to others, an outward-facing attitude and an awareness of what’s going on, we can actually also control how we’re perceived by other people.”

1. Aim to make other people feel at ease.
2. Learn how to look people in the eye and have a firm handshake.
3. Understand what’s required of you in certain situations, for example, what to wear to a fancy restaurant and how to act on public transport. 
4. Notice how your actions impact other people and aim to have a minimum negative impact on others. 
5. Make sure you have some downtime from the screen so you can practice the art of conversation.

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