The first time I remember coming across social media was when I was in middle school or better known as the “MySpace Era”. I didn’t use my MySpace account very often, but I liked the idea of having your own profile that you could customize and connect with your friends on. Then in the summer of 2007, when I was about to start high school, I made my Facebook account. At the time it was known as the safer version of MySpace, whatever that was supposed to mean.
Growing up with this very powerful platform was definitely a strange experience that I often cringe about. The Internet was a whole new unexplored frontier without guidelines or advice tutorials. There are a couple things I’ve learned the hard way or have seen those close to me learn the hard way, but now I’m here to help you steer clear of these mistakes.
Golden Rule #1: Try to Remain Positive
I am very guilty of this one! I understand there are many upsetting things in life that you want to rant about, but bottom line is that after a while being an “aggravated Agnes” can be unattractive. There are many things that get to me on a daily basis – like someone cutting me off on the freeway or another person on Facebook updating their status to “Trump actually makes some good points, you know”- but I have to suck it up and pretend everything in life is beautiful. If something really gets to you and you HAVE to tell everyone, do it in a funny and relatable way. Example: “Who would have thought that South Park’s prediction of Trump making it this far was going to actually happen?”
Golden Rule #2: DO NOT, I Repeat, DO NOT Reveal Your Dirty Laundry Online
This is the worst! I see this happen among young couples all the time. The typical Facebook status goes something like this:
Unhappy Girlfriend: “I absolutely hate (insert boyfriend’s name here) right now! He’s irresponsible, constantly flirting with other women, and doesn’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated. (Insert innocent friend’s name here) was right, I should have never dated him!”
Then two days later the same unhappy girlfriend posts up a cute picture of the two of them with some cliché quote about love. Not only does this make her look like she makes terrible decisions, but the two of them look like a hot mess. It’s sad because everyone who sees this status is having the same reaction as a typical studio audience of The Jerry Springer Show. At least if you let out your dirty laundry on that show you’ll be getting paid for it. If you’re mad at someone, try to be classy and take it offline to solve it.
Golden Rule #3: If You Have Big News, Tell Your Close Friends and Family First Before Posting to the Public
We live in a time where we feel validated by the amount of likes, comments and shares we get, so this rule can be hard to follow. My advice: any new relationship, job, engagement, pregnancy, death or any other major life event should be told to your loved ones in private first before being blasted over the Internet. Not only will your family and friends feel hurt that you didn’t tell them first, but they will feel awkward about how they are supposed to react. Everyone has the right to react to news however they want and if it’s a negative reaction you don’t want that apparent on social media. Trust me on that one.
Golden Rule #4: Don’t Be Selfish
Instead of refreshing your profile on Facebook 5 million times, like other people’s posts! It’s easy to be self-absorbed on social media, but make sure you engage with others. Not only does engaging with others help you gain followers and connections, but it also exposes you to things you had no idea existed! There are so many people in the world with different talents and passions that you can learn from or be inspired from. This is why I really enjoy using platforms like Instagram.
Golden Rule #5: Always Get Permission & Give Credit Where It’s Due
I think this is always a good rule to follow. Having a background in journalism, I know to give credit where it’s due. I try to follow this in my personal life too.
For example, I still have an iPhone 4 and the camera quality on it isn’t very good. I went into Best Buy a couple of months ago to ask if they sell iPhone 4 cases and the sarcastic employee responded, “No, but we have new phones.” Even though I didn’t appreciate his unnecessary snarky comment, he was right about my cellular device being archaic. Anyway, many times I have uploaded a picture that one of my friends took of us to Instagram solely for image quality purposes. In these cases, I always ask their permission to do so and I always give them photo credit in the comment section! This shows transparency and honesty – two characteristics that are kind of rare these days.
Golden Rule #6: Portray Yourself in a Positive Light
I know this one sounds self-explanatory, but we all make this mistake! Sometimes the world of social media can feel like a popularity contest and it can cloud our judgement when it comes to what we post. Just remember that employers and nosy family members and friends are always lurking and waiting to bring up something you did at the absolute worst time! Unless you’re a “model”, I would stay away from posing in your underwear. Also, I know you want to show off your new tobacco water pipe that you bought at a gas station in Pacific Beach (yeah, because people totally smoke tobacco out of those things), but try to just tell your close friends who will actually appreciate it.
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
What’s a difficult lesson you have learned from using social media?