by Constance Droganes, entertainment writer, CTV.ca
Many people today use social media technology to hook up -- or break up. But even social networking pros can commit huge dating faux pas -- just check out the new movie "Textuality," starring Jason Lewis, if you don't believe it.
The film's plot revolves around two people trying to embark on relationships through social media. That catch, however, is that they are also using the same technology to free themselves from multiple existing relationships.
That, says Toronto etiquette expert Karen Cleveland, is a major dating no-no.
"When you're dealing with social media, we tend to multi-task almost to a fault. It's one thing to BBM someone when you're in bed at the end of the day. It's quite another when you're endlessly texting or tweeting at a party in front of friends or potentials partners," said Cleveland, a marketing and branding consultant at St. Joseph Media in Toronto.
Cleveland launched her etiquette column, Finishing School in 2007. It was shaped, in large part, by experiences in the branding world.
"For me working with brands and thinking about etiquette and manners connected a lot of dots," Cleveland told CTV.ca.
"Today's technology is so wonderful and nimble. You can communicate with people 24/7. But in terms of relationships, some old conventions still apply."
It all boils down to showing respect to the people you are around, as well as the people you communicating with in social media networks.
"I think the problem many of us face today is that social networking makes people passive. You can put your convenience, and your gutlessness, ahead of facing the music and dealing with another person's feelings, especially if you are breaking up with them," she said.
"Remember that 'Sex and the City' episode where Carrie gets dumped via a Post-It note? What we're dealing with today is along the same continuum. But a relationship is still a relationship," according to Cleveland. "You can't get off scot-free, especially when it comes to ending an affair."
Cleveland offers these tips to keep your image and your social networking style in top order on the dating scene.
1. It's so easy to vent nowadays. But keep your dirty laundry off Facebook or Twitter. "If it's on the Internet it's out there forever. Don't use those platforms if you're really upset about something and if you're not comfortable with the boss reading about your broken heart," said Cleveland.
2. Social networking is very quick and nimble. But technology like this can't replace or eliminate real, face-to-face interaction. As Cleveland said, "When you're at a party and you turn your back from the people in the room to text and tweet several others that sends the wrong message. It's not polite. Not by a long shot."
3. By the same token, you're always glancing at other people's phones when you are out with friends or dates people break the habit. "That tells people that the phones and the tweets are more important to you than them," said Cleveland.
4. A human connection is a connection. So if you click with someone, you'll probably like they way they sound in person or in a text. "A person's tone always rings through," said Cleveland. "Technology is a great supplement. But it's no replacement for that special quality we convey in face-to-face communication."