As a sign of how mainstream social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are, people are starting to wring their virtual teeny hands about the proper etiquette around various situations.
Do romantic partners get veto power on Facebook and Twitter friends? What's appropriate fundraising behavior for politicians? Should you be friends with your boss? If you're friends with a couple and they break up, are you obligated to de-friend one of them?
One can only imagine the tizzy these people would be in if they were faced with the "ahoy vs. hello" problem of early telephones.
Needless to say, there's plenty of people out there ready to help navigate you through these choppy waters -- preferably for money. One new book, due out this year, is Get Digital: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the 21st Century Economy . "The first thing to consider when creating or updating your social networking profile is whether or not it is intended for personal or business use. It cannot be both," author Shelley Palmer finger-wags. "Make a choice and stick to it."
On the other hand, take some of this advice (not to mention her grammar) with a grain of salt. Palmer goes on to say, "You will get more from a close network of 50 friends than you will from a network of 500 people you barely know."
This, actually, is not true. More than 80 percent of the time, people found their jobs not through close contacts (partner, relative, best friend, or close business contact) but through someone they vaguely knew, according to Mark Granovetter, who was at Johns Hopkins University at the time he did his research but who is now at Stanford.
This may not make sense at first, but it does if you think about it. "Most networking gurus continue to tell us: Don’t focus on acquaintances or strangers; instead invest your time in a close circle of contacts." said Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, co-author of Work the Pond! "Wrong! The problem with this advice is that these folks know the same people you do."
In fact, Granovetter learned that people who found their job through a mere acquaintance--a weak link to a distance network--actually got better jobs because they were exposed to opportunities they would have never known about and to connections further a field, Hallgren-Rezac said.
So sure, manners matter. And yes, don't post pictures of yourself chugging a beer or groping someone. (Especially if you're a teacher.) But don't get too hung up on it.