Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at news- sentinel.com.
Q. Karen, when our daughter became engaged she and her fiance told my husband and me in person and were intending to tell grandparents and other close relatives the next day via the phone. However, some of their friends had been told of the news and they promptly shared our news with their Facebook friends. Those Facebook posts filtered down to some of the relatives who our daughter was going to tell in person. Needless to say, there were some hurt feelings. What is the etiquette for posting this kind of information on social media?
A. In the old days (before social media) we worried about news traveling too fast via telephone. Today, news is traveling faster than ever before due to the Internet and social media and can quickly get out of our control. It seems there is no end to what people share on Facebook and Twitter. However, I believe there are still some things that should be shared via the telephone or in person before it goes viral. Wedding engagements, deaths and important family news would be at the top of that list.
Prioritizing who gets told when and in what order is very important and can prevent hard feelings. Parents, grandparents and siblings should be told first before sharing the news with friends. If friends are told, they should be instructed to not share your news on social media before you do. That is tantamount to raining on someone else's parade.
Sensitive news, such as a death or serious illness, also should be delivered via the phone to close friends and family. At those times it can be helpful to enlist close friends or other family members to get the word out before it appears in the paper or on social media sites.
Before you share your news — or someone else's — on social media, ask yourself a few questions:
•Am I raining on someone else's parade?
•Is this news too sensitive to put on Facebook or Twitter?
•Do I have permission to post this news?
•Have the appropriate family members and friends been told first?
When in doubt, don't put it on social media sites!