The growing number of outbursts of political intolerance on social media (from all political perspectives), divisive and insulting rhetoric — along with the already prevalent nonsensical, prescriptive affirmations — have soured me on the use of social media. At this point, I miss people’s pictures of their lunch.
In a modest effort to restore some sanity to the electronic highways and help preserve marriages, family ties and friendships, I came up with a list of “Don’ts” and “Definite Don’ts” when using social media.
I am not beyond reproach. I, too, have been guilty of social media offenses. Feel no shame in acknowledging your own trespasses. Also remember that social media postings are now part of what is called “reputation management.” People, including potential employers, will judge you based on messages you’ve posted. If you are a parent, there is a simple rule: Don’t post anything that your kids cannot see. If your kids are not old enough to be on social media, they soon will be and they have people around them that do have access to Facebook who can readily show them that picture of you and your buddies plastered on Friday night attempting to relive your youth.
We start the list of “don’ts” — these are obvious missteps:
Never miss a local story.
▪ Do not use profanity when posting, even when referring to the death of dictators like Fidel Castro. This is one I violated. I now realize that I should have expressed the same sentiment in a different way.
▪ Do not drive or post messages on social media when you are inebriated. Public messaging requires a modicum of common sense, which you lack when you are under the influence.
▪ Don’t rabidly debate someone on their post thread. Everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how disagreeable it may be to you. If you vehemently disagree with someone then properly post your views on your own wall. Be respectful of other’s opinions. Think twice before you post a picture of yourself on a first date, it is a first date and barring an intervention from Cupid, chances are you may never see this person again.
Now on to the “Definite Don’ts category: Religion and personal beliefs are personal and can be quite off-putting if presented in a preachy way. The rule of thumb here should be, you are free to praise God all you like, but refrain from proselytizing.
Social media is a public forum and while you have the right to express your belief system, stop short of imposing then on anyone. Do not post pictures of friends with exes, especially if they are going out with someone else right now. It is hugely inconsiderate and can cause your friend heartache. That picture you posted on Throwback Thursday of you and your friend on a double date seven years ago, not a great choice unless you severely crop.
Finally, limit the number of corny, generic affirmations and prescriptive advice you post. Many of us have read “The Alchemist” and we don’t need yet another Paulo Coelho quote to lift our spirits.
Just because you are posting from the comfort of your couch wearing your comfiest shorts with holes in them, billions of people around the world and, most important, the neighbor down the street are exposed to your opinions and musings.
Social media is far from intimate and discreet.