We all have that special someone.
The one who makes you laugh, cry, shake your fist in anger. The one in whose life you are not simply a bystander, but an active participant. The one who doesn’t hide their feelings or beliefs, no matter what. The one whose children’s accomplishments are celebrated with abandon. The one who always has a witty word, inspirational quote or amusing video available at a click of the mouse. The one who encourages you to ‘elf yourself’, crush candy or build a farm.
The one you haven’t seen or spoken to in roughly 23.5 years…
Let’s face it. Social media – when used properly – can be great. I think it’s nice to connect with people I’ve known in a past life, or keep in touch with those whose lives have spun in a different direction. It’s easy to interact with family who live at a distance, or those I’d normally only see at Weddings & Funerals. Honestly, I enjoy the benefits of having a relationship with a minimal expenditure of energy.
Dealing with the nuisance-posters can be a challenge. You know you have one. They post photos of their dinner, with detailed descriptions. Every. Night. They post a series of status updates on the progress of their toe-lint removal from start to finish. They post how awesome they feel on the palezobiotic diet plan that has changed their life, and invite you to their page where you can buy the amazing kelp-fortified-acagojialgae-fairy-dust supplement at an introductory rate of $99.95 for a 10 day supply. They fill your inbox with invitations for every game available on the internet. THEY POST STATUS UPDATES AND MAKE COMMENTS WITH CAPS LOCK ON. EVERY. POST. WITHOUT. FAIL. They repeatedly repost doomsday-copyright-privacy-faux-legalese disclaimers without checking the validity – hoaxes exist!!! They post vague comments in hopes of eliciting equally vague yet encouraging responses.
That being said…
The group of most concern are the Over-Sharers. The ones who clearly did NOT get the memo that once it’s on the interwebs, you can’t get it back. You’d think the teenagers would be more inclined to make these mistakes, right? Nope. It’s adults. They post details of legal proceedings complete with bitter diatribes castigating the other parties involved. Drunken selfies with equally drunken friends whilst cavorting at clubs complete with check-in at said club AND the morning-after follow-up post on how useless they are at work? Yup. Rants about how much they hate their job/coworkers/boss? Of course!!! Absolutely baffling. Perhaps the computer screen affords some people a sense of safety or detachment? That couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you think you might be an over-sharer, stop it NOW, because unfortunately a little goes a very, very long way these days. The below suggestions are relevant for both adults and teens. Everyone is watching these days, from employers (current and potential) to colleges & universities. Privacy settings will only take you so far. Things go viral in the blink of an eye, so pay attention!
Social Media Self-Preservation
Hashtags, Status Updates & Tweets
- Angry? Cool down first.
- Controversial Topic? Think long and hard on how important it is to you in the long run.
- Emotional Topic? Use caution. If it’s better discussed in the cozy warmth of a therapist’s office, shell out the $100 and do it there instead.
- Hashtags, Friend or Foe? It may seem innocuous to insert that cute and funny little hashtag in your Facebook status update, but it may actually be trending. Want an example of a well-intentioned hashtag gone terribly wrong? Enter #McDStories in the google machine – definitely one of those things that ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’.
- Dirty Laundry? Keep it in the hamper. Seriously. Airing things out in a public forum rarely, if ever, goes well for the one posting.
- Legal? This should be a no-brainer. Broadcasting on Facebook what an a-hole your soon-to-be ex is while going through break-up is ill-advised. Rolling in Anthrax-laced powder would be a better idea. Why? Because you are still friends with someone who knows them, or someone who knows someone who knows them, and it will be used against you.
- Missing any standard articles of clothing? Don’t get caught with your pants down.
- Wearing any item that wouldn’t normally be considered clothing? Don’t, because a raw meat gown didn’t work out too well for Lady Gaga, it won’t be any better for you. Plus, steak is expensive.
- Clothing on non-corresponding body parts? Don’t, because underwear should never be on your head.
- Called out sick from work? Don’t, don’t, DO NOT post pictures from the party you ditched work to attend. Putting raw bacon on your face to do a Hannibal Lecter impression whilst drinking your beer through a straw seems funny at the time, but your beleaguered boss probably won’t appreciate it.
- On disability? Don’t post that photo of the new trick you learned in your recent Trapeze Fundamentals training session.
‘Liking’ & Sharing Status Updates, Photos, Memes & Pages
No bullet points necessary here. Just a word of warning. That little ‘thumbs-up’, smiley, or heart you select is like a signature. Your name is now attached, so you’re essentially posting it on your own wall. The pages you follow are visible to everyone. If you share a link to an article discussing the benefits of ear candling, expect the possibility that the ‘related articles’ may include information on colonic enemas and rolfing. That meme with the angry baby spewing profanities? Yup, that too. Others can also see if you ‘liked’ a comment someone else made on a public post. It goes on and on.
The average Facebook user has 350-ish friends. My vote? Go for quality over quantity. People will hijack your status updates, may post questionable material your wall, AND have the ability to ‘tag’ you in inappropriate posts that you wouldn’t want your 76 year old mother to see. Thin the herd. Nothing good can come of being ‘friends’ with someone who is not A Friend.
I guess what I’m trying to say…
Have a good time. Enjoy social media for what it is. Don’t get so bajiggity about comments you don’t agree with, topics you’re sensitive to, or people who behave like wing nuts. Be smart – that photo/comment/status update is NOT worth losing your job/reputation/relationship over. Above all else, remember – once it’s out there, you can’t get it back!