It’s a funny thing to realize that today’s high school seniors, the Class of 2020, were born in 2001 and 2002. By the time they were six years old, people were messaging on Facebook (est. 2004), creating videos for YouTube (est. 2005), and tweeting on Twitter (est. 2006). Since social media has always been present in their lives, they know how to use it almost instinctually. But if you’re new to social media, you might need some guidelines to get started. Check out our guide to social media etiquette 101 to get started and ensure that you don’t make any embarrassing faux pas.
Social Media Etiquette 101
It can be tempting to share a lot of your life on social media, but remember to err on the side of caution. Consider making your account “private” (as opposed to “public”) and review your privacy settings so that you know what your friends can see. For safety, it’s recommended that you avoid sharing any of the following information: contact information, details about where your children/grandchildren work or go to school, any vacation plans, details about when you’re routinely away from home (a weekly bowling league, for example), etc. This information could be used by burglars or kidnappers who wish to target you or your family.
On a less serious note, it’s also best not to overshare online when it comes to your emotions. So if you’re feeling really angry with someone, don’t vent about it online – you might regret it later! Talk to a trusted friend about it in person or over the phone. Also, remember that the majority of people on social media use it for fun – to keep in touch, to share good news, and to spread joy. So if you’re tempted to write a long monologue on your political views or a diatribe against someone, think twice.
When you post frequently on social media, you’ll begin appearing in your friends’ feeds frequently. This can quickly become annoying, as their feed might become overtaken with your posts and pictures. So if you find yourself tempted to “update your status” a few times a day, hold off. Focus on the quality of your posts, not the quantity, so that your friends are pleased to see you’ve posted, not dreading how long it will take to scroll through your never-ending updates.
Ask Before Sharing Someone Else’s News.
It’s very tempting to tell the world when something wonderful happens to someone you love. For example, you might want to announce that your granddaughter is pregnant, your son recently got engaged, or your niece got an amazing job offer. However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t your news to share. If you announce the news prematurely or without permission, you could put the person in a sticky situation. What if your granddaughter’s pregnancy puts her job in jeopardy? What if your son hasn’t told the rest of the family that he’s engaged yet? What if your niece hasn’t put in her two weeks’ notice?
If you want to share some joyous news, ask the person involved whether it’s okay or not. This is a nonnegotiable component of social media etiquette 101.
Ask Before Sharing Photos of Others.
Similarly, be cautious when sharing photos of other people or photos that you didn’t take. The people in the photos might prefer that you not share them with the world (particularly if your profile isn’t private). Keep in mind that there are many different reasons why people might not want pictures of themselves online. Perhaps they’re in the middle of a divorce, dealing with a stalker, or simply don’t like the way they look in the photo. Whatever the reason, it’s polite not to post a photo of someone that they would prefer not to share with the world through social media. This is especially important if you’re posting pictures of children, as their parents might prefer to maintain their children’s privacy.
It’s no big secret that things said online can often be misinterpreted. So when you’re commenting on someone’s post, be careful about what you say and how it might be read. Avoid any comments that could be taken negatively and use emojis if needed to convey your meaning. Beware of wading into heavy topics like politics and religion, as these can easily become fraught whether you’re online or talking in person. And although it can be tempting to speak freely in the comments section, prioritize being polite, kind, and non-judgmental.
Only Connect with Your True Friends
You don’t need to be “friends” with everyone online. For your security and privacy, it’s best to only invite and accept friendships with people who are truly your friends or family. Plus, this makes your interactions more meaningful. Do you really want your old coworker’s friend Bob, who you met once 10 years ago, to see the photos you post of your family? Keep your friends close and de-friend anyone you don’t truly know.
While this social media etiquette 101 guide doesn’t contain all of the tips you need to know to be polite and well mannered online, we hope it gave you some food for thought. Before we go, let’s quickly review a few other essential tips:
- Writing with CAPS LOCK ON is interpreted as yelling at someone. Use it very sparingly.
- Emojis are great for expressing emotion, but if you overuse or misuse them, your meaning may be lost. Use them with care.
- You should only tag someone in a picture or post if they are in the photo or were present at the event you’re discussing. If you aren’t sure whether a tag is appropriate, don’t use it. Or, ask the person if it’s okay first.
- Only invite someone to play an online game once. If they don’t respond to your invitation, don’t continue asking.
In general, remember to be kind, respectful, careful, and cautious online. Only share what you feel comfortable sharing with every one of your online friends, and be careful with how you respond to others’ posts. Social media can be fun and rewarding, but never forget that it’s a risk.
At Springhouse Village, we know how important it is to enjoy your retirement in a lively and welcoming environment. We make it easy for our residents to be active participants in our community. Whether that means encouraging residents to shop at local farmers markets or assisting them in starting a garden club, we strive to help our residents thrive. To learn more about the amenities and services we offer, contact Springhouse Village today.