It’s easy to use social media. It’s too easy. I can think of at least three friends with whom I make plans entirely over social media, because I do not have their phone numbers or email addresses. I know, I’m a millennial, go ahead and yell at me or whatever. [Ed note: Millennial used to not show up under spell check, and now it does. Progress.] We’re not here to judge you for how you get in touch with your friends. However, there are some interactions that should not be conducted in a public place. Let’s go over some. (And remember, most of this varies depending on who you’re connected with. It may look different if you’re friends with 2,000 people v. 20).
1. Don’t ask someone on a date– This doesn’t even have to be a romantic date. Any question of “when are we hanging out” should be taken to a private conversation, whether it’s Facebook messaging, DM on Twitter, private snapchat (???), anything. The whole world shouldn’t see you debating whether you can make the 8pm showing of Lucy or if you should go to the 9:45pm one just to be safe. On Twitter you might be able to get away with this more, since if you message someone only the people who follow both of you can see it, but after a while it’s probably easier to switch to email anyway.
2. Don’t RSVP on someone’s public page- If you’ve been invited to a Facebook event or something like that, RSVP through that page. Don’t write out why you can’t come on the host’s page, because maybe they wanted the event kept private, and definitely don’t RSVP on social media for an invitation you got in the mail. Similarly, don’t try to host a party through your public social media pages. Saying “come to my house for a BBQ on Saturday” will either get you hundreds of people asking for your address, or you having to explain to a bunch of strangers that you don’t actually want them there. YMMV depending on privacy settings, etc., but if you have 20 people you want to invite, just invite them.
3. Don’t ask people to be part of huge life events– It’s already known that it’s a bit tacky to talk endlessly about your wedding or baby or other events on Facebook, considering you don’t want to broadcast a party that most people won’t be invited to. In that same spirit, do not ask people to be part of these events in public. Recently, my husband showed me something that popped up on his Facebook feed, where one girl wrote on another’s wall, asking her to be a bridesmaid, and naming three other women who were already on board. Would you have this conversation in a room of 50 people with everyone listening? Then don’t do it on Facebook.
4. Don’t post disgusting pictures– Pictures of you and your new baby? Awesome. Picture of your new baby covered in its own vomit? Maybe not.
5. Don’t post anything super judgmental- As usual, this is a case of “know your audience,” but posts where you’re judging a large group of people on their actions, or acting really sanctimonious about your own, are just inviting trouble. Even if you think you’re really close to all your Facebook friends, you never know what someone else’s personal life is like, and you may inadvertently be insulting a good friend.
6. Don’t be passive aggressive– It gets really, really tempting to subtweet and hint at some larger drama in your life, and you may think that by avoiding naming names, you can get away with this. But chances are, someone in your feed knows who you’re talking about and will figure it out. Plus, etiquette usually dictates you confront anyone about personal issues directly and as soon as possible, so you’re probably not even letting this problem escalate to the level where you’d need to do this, right?
Don’t worry, there are still plenty of things you can do! For instance, you can post fun or interesting articles, promote yourself, create events or just make a lot of bad jokes. You can actually keep in touch with people and have funny and inane conversations with people you live thousands of miles away from.