My twitter bio used to state, among other things, that I “teach people not to be terrible online.” What exactly do I mean by this? Well, essentially, I’ve spent the last few years helping people understand some of the nuances of social media. These have included, at times, such things as; don’t call people names, don’t weigh in on hot topics with terrible opinions, be consistent and clear in your messaging and make every conversation a two way street. I teach social media etiquette, among other things.But recently, I was called out failing to walk the walk.

One of my favourite apps is one called Haiku Deck. They make a really incredible presentation app that helps people create great looking presentations while avoiding the awful university professor habit entitled, “Listen as I read to you all the words you see before you on this slide.” Haiku Deck, understanding that they’re a business, have focused on the best way to monetize their product. This has included freemium concepts but recently they’ve made a pretty big shift and are essentially making most of the key features of their service paid.

The company was very clear to their “customers”, if you can call someone who downloaded an app for free a “customer”, that this change was coming. I did notice that someone online called Haiku Deck out for this change and I decided to come to the defence of a company that I believe has been very transparent throughout the process and who have created a really useful and powerful tool. The individual that called them out on this stated that they “made this change without warning” but listed on their twitter bio that they were a very avid reader. So, in trying to be pointed, but funny, I said that maybe if they were as avid a reader as they said they were, they may have read the emails about this.

Looking back, it was rude. I didn’t call them names or anything like that, but I was a little rude. I’m not pro-corporation but I do believe that calling out a company who makes a great product and wants to be reimbursed for that product is a bit much. Much better than my miniature tirade was their response. They suggested that perhaps I should read my own bio and learn how to not be terrible on the Internet myself.

I wasn’t TERRIBLE…per se, but the message got me thinking. I went on to have a conversation with them and they were quite reasonable about both my assertion and about Haiku Deck’s changes. And I realized something very important. You are what you tweet. It doesn’t matter what your bio says about you. What matters is how you actually carry yourself online. Fancy yourself an “SEO ninja”? Your website better be fully optimized. Think you’re a “photography pro”? Your shots better not look like something my kid could take with my iPhone. Don’t just talk it. Live it. Social media etiquette isn’t about not having an opinion. It’s about being human about it.

Remember that while you might be able to delete a tweet, that’s a lot like telling a kid not to peek. It’s gonna stop some people. But not most people. Be thoughtful in what you post. Own what you post. And while you don’t have to be nice to people all the time, understand that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and act accordingly.