Social Media Etiquette 101

Everyday something taboo or flat-out inappropriate is posted online. Many many times a day. It’s unfortunate, because a lot of people use the internet, and especially social media (ie Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) for FUN. These platforms are great for staying in touch with friends, sharing videos and songs, posting entertaining photos, or building your professional network. With that in mind, it’s hard to fathom some of the things you will see in a given day: friends fighting, photos that SHOULD be private, excessive swearing, and the like. Not only do these things make the person posting them look bad, but they could have a ripple effect on not only those close to us, but people who could be interviewing us for jobs in the future. So I am here to help put an end to the madness, and create a more enjoyable environment online.

Disclaimer: This post is not being written to call anyone out, I just thought it would be a good idea to share my knowledge of what IS, and what is NOT acceptable to put online. I do hope you enjoy (and take some notes).

1.) Leave Emotion at the Door. When you sit down at your computer or laptop, the last thing you should be is emotional. I’m talking angry, sad, or otherwise. I’m not here to coach you on dealing with your emotions (at least in this post), but there are other outlets besides posting on Facebook how sad you are. I know it does feel good to have 10 of your friends to say ‘aww, I’m sorry,’ or ‘buck up little camper,’ but human contact is really the best way to get through an emotionally tough time. As for anger, you should stay as far away from a computer as possible, because you will most likely post something you regret (and deleting it just doesn’t fix it).

2.) Limit Swearing. Hey, I like to drop an ‘F’ bomb as much as the next guy (trust me, I do in person), but online isn’t the place. If you search every one of my blogs, you won’t see one. I have done it on a couple statuses, and I usually get called out for it (by my mom). It’s OK every now and then to swear, but just try to keep it to a minimum. I’m telling you, I was hesitant at first, but having my family as Facebook friends has really limited what I say that’s inappropriate, and that’s a good thing.

3.) Scan Your Pictures Periodically. No matter how fun that one night was where you blacked out, if you LOOK blacked out, then you might want to consider untagging the picture. If it’s yours, then you might want to take it down altogether. Yes, I drink, and occasionally I drink too much, so every once in a while I will go through my pictures to make sure I don’t look like a fool. Like it or not, Facebook has basically made every single person a ‘mini-celebrity’: we are in the public eye constantly. Not only that, but some employers will even search for incriminating photos to see if you can handle yourself.

4.) Complaining is OK, if it’s FUNNY. We all have things to complain about. TRUST ME. I know. But we don’t all want to hear you complain about everything that is going wrong in your life every damn (oopsie) day. I’m guilty of it, believe me. I’ve ranted before, and without even being angry. You just can’t think about anything else and you need to get it out. Writing about it is a great way to do so, however sharing it with everyone isn’t. Unless you can somehow make it a joke. Laughing at yourself will not only make you feel better, but chances are, other people will laugh too and that in turn makes people want to read what you have to say. That makes you feel 10X better. Try it out.

5.) Sex/Drugs/Etc Should NOT Be Discussed. I love a good sex joke. Drugs aren’t the worst thing in the world. But discussing those things online make you look a little trashy, and make some people uncomfortable. You may say ‘who cares what other people think,’ but you have to remember that some of the things that you say or do online have consequences. Just think: ‘would I care if my mom saw that?’ If the answer’s yes, most likely you should probably not put it up. You don’t have to listen to me, but I recommend it.

6.) Just Have Fun. I already said it; but most people online are just trying to stay connected with friends and have fun. Anything more than that, and I think you are putting too much stock into what social media is all about. It’s meant to connect the world, in a positive way. Anything you put up should be for others to enjoy, and yourself obviously. If you think you might rub someone the wrong way, then there are other ways to express your opinions. Some ideas: start a blog, buy a journal/diary, build a website, start a company… the list is endless.

Again, I wrote this as a guide; to help people who may wonder ‘is this OK for Facebook?’ If you do these things, and we are friends, I am not judging you in any way. I just believe that some people could use more discretion (myself included), and this could help with that. Additionally, I FULLY believe in freedom of speech and the right to express yourself. These rules don’t limit that; they simply change the environment that those ideas are expressed. Give people a choice to hear what you have to say. That way, when they read it/hear it/see it, they will appreciate it.

Good luck out there readers. Have fun with your social media, and your world will open up. On a side note, if you have ideas for blogs/books/etc you want me to read over, I would be more than happy to help you get the word out, just let me know! AND, if you have any other ideas on how to use social media, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading!

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