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Jane Austen on Twitter

23 Jun 2013
Posted by Shannon

About two years ago, I was trying to explain a humble-brag -- and how to avoid it -- to a friend making her first foray into social media. That's when it dawned on me that Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice was the perfect example. 

We’re both Jane Austen fans, and we’ve often discussed what an astute judge of people she was. Her books are populated with characters we all know. Reading her I’ve often been struck by how technology changes while humanity doesn't. She shows us everything from psychopaths to fools and her comic romps are nothing but snapshots of villages behaving badly. 

So I'm drawing on Austen's insights to teach generations of city dwellers about the etiquette and social skills necessary for getting along in a village. Which is really what social media platforms have done – turned us into a huge village. 

Social media novices often ask how to avoid putting a digital-foot-in-mouth, so now I tell nervous tweeters that before they post they should pause and ask themselves, “What would Jane say to that?”

I expanded the idea into a think piece for Calgary’s Swerve magazine: "Jane Austen’s Guide to Social Media." Which published on time, Thursday, despite the flood.