Should We Even Bother With Social Media Etiquette?

What Would Tom Do?

What Would Tom Do?

I keep thinking that there needs to be a guide to social media etiquette, because there are some people that are just insufferable, but I can hear the backlash now: “If someone’s annoying just stop following them!” “You can block people you know.” “I found a complicated way to mute everything someone says but still make it look like you’re listening.” Yes, we all know that social media is pretty optional and if you don’t like looking at a hundred photos of your elementary school best friend’s new baby you can just unfriend her. But social media has also wedged its way into our lives to a point that I felt actively left out of my chosen career by not being on Twitter. Since many of us feel strong societal pulls to engage in social media, let’s see if there are ways to make it a slightly nicer place.

  • Try not to post all the time– Of course one of the main reasons everyone is on Facebook or Twitter is so we can share articles, photos, and thoughts with each other, but you never want to clog someone else’s feed. This happens on Twitter a lot, especially when someone not only posts a lot, but retweets every single response they get.
  • Don’t get into arguments on Twitter – This sort of goes for Facebook, but at least there you don’t have character limits, and can let your arguments be as wordy and thought out as you want. I have never seen an argument on Twitter turn out well for either party, no matter how intelligent the argument, because there is just no way to achieve any nuance in 140 characters. You’re going to come off sounding like you don’t know what you’re talking about, even if you do, so just avoid it. No one ever thinks “wow, he’s super smart, but I wish he would argue more on Twitter.”
  • Don’t be a mommyjacker– This doesn’t just go for moms! We all know that person who turns every post into something about their baby, but people do this for all sorts of topics and it’s frustrating as hell. Try not to comment on photos or statuses with something completely unrelated to the topic, or to make it all about you.
  • Ask permission before tagging photos of people/quoting people– I know you desperately want to post that photo of you and your little brother in the bathtub together for Throwback Thursday, but not everybody wants everything they do online. I’ve been really frustrated when people post something on Twitter that I’ve said to them in private, or posted tons of unflattering photos from a drunken night out. And yes, you can always untag yourself, but the photo is still there. So maybe send your friend a quick text asking them if it’s okay, or don’t get mad if you post something and they ask you to remove it. This goes double for posting photos of babies and children, since they can’t really tell you they don’t want their photo broadcast to the world.
  • Don’t be on your phone/computer/tablet all the time– This expands a bit to general social etiquette, but the number of times I’ve been out to dinner and something funny happened in the conversation and someone whips out their phone and says “omg I’m tweeting that” is entirely too many. This is not the fault of social media or millenials or anything–my grandfather was the type to constantly make us re-enact candid moments so he could take photographs, instead of just living in the moment. But if you’re with other people, try to stay engaged with them, instead of turning to your phone or tablet or camera.

What happens on social media that frustrates you? Tell us!

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