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Lifestyle & Budget

Acting Rude Online May Cost You Friends


Here’s another reason to watch what you say online: it may cost you your friends.

A new survey finds people are getting ruder on Facebook and user tolerance is wearing thin.

VitalSmarts, a corporate training firm, found two in five social media users have ended contact with a friend after a virtual altercation.

The survey found 78% of the 2,698 people surveyed report an increase in rudeness online with people feeling less inclined to act as mannerly on the web as they would in person. What’s more, fights that begin online are spilling over into reality, with 19% of people blocking, unfriending or unsubscribing over a virtual disagreement.

For the party being “un-friended,” the move may come as a shock, says Ari Zoldan, CEO of consulting firm Quantum Media Holdings.

“It’s virtually slapping someone in the face,” Zoldan says. “But of course, anything you do online has a 100% repercussion rate as to what happens in the physical world, face-to-face. If you unfriend or unsubscribe, it’s a personal blow to them.”

But if the move protects your reputation,  it’s a risk worth taking, he says. If someone is making unsavory comments on the web and you are their friend, if may appear that you are in agreement.

“If someone is using a virtual message board to rant or talk about topics you don’t agree with, you are guilty by association,” he says. “I would totally cut ties—you are participating by being a witness or a friend or in that circle. Why encourage this by being that person’s friend?”

Whether severing ties becomes a personal problem in real life depends on how seriously both parties take their online media presence, Zoldan says. But in terms of employers and even the government, you want to have a polished presence on the web.

“If people had an online avatar that was separate from who they are as a person in the real world, that is one thing, but today it’s completely blurred,” he says. “There is no nuance or distinction.”

Follow Kate Rogers on Twitter at @KateRogersNews

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