The Politics of Social Media

1-3-2014 5-05-06 PMYour great aunt’s pictures of the new dog are now cluttering your newsfeed, and someone missed the fact that they were on caps lock all afternoon. Your best friend found a new stash of Pinterest cake stands to appreciate, and as much as you love her, you’re wishing she would find a hobby that doesn’t send you notifications.

Social media is not just a database or a forum – it’s a world unto itself. A world so structured, it has its own legal system. Break the code, and you end up in someone’s black book. Or, like your cake-stand-happy friend, your acquaintances start considering blocking you out of their social media lives.

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As a public service announcement, I have listed a few of the more commonly broken laws below.

First, don’t stalk. That sounds simple, but it’s actually a fine line. You are stalking if you comment on a picture someone posted a long time ago; you are not stalking if you comment on the picture immediately after you become their friend. Posting on someone else’s wall is not stalking, but if they aren’t your best friend, you’d better do it very rarely and for very good reasons. If you’re confused, don’t worry – so is everyone else. This brings us to the second rule.

Act like you know what you’re doing. The uncertain ones don’t make it far. Pretend if you must, but always give the impression that you are totally confident. It’s a vicious world out there, and you don’t want to be the one left reciting mule-in-the-hole stories to yourself. Believe me, they aren’t nearly as funny the second time.

NEVER POST IN ALL CAPS. There’s no reason for this rule, it’s just hard to read. Online, caps mean yelling, and if you read enough posts or comments or tweets by someone who yells all the time, the little person screaming at you from inside your head gets very tired.

Get to the point. When you post things like, “I’ve been so sad this week,” and “Guess what I did today,” you are shouting that you need someone to give you their attention and ask what you mean. Again, this denotes insecurity. Never act insecure.

On the other hand, avoid too much information. That picture of you in a Rockette outfit in your bathroom mirror? Well, good for you, but you remember that you friended your father, and he can see that, right? And the next time you meet an acquaintance in Wal-Mart, you think they’re just shaking your hand, but they’re actually envisioning you with reindeer antlers on your head.

Anyone can get online and “like” and “heart” and post pictures that no one else cares about, but to climb the ladder of social media popularity, and gain all those friends and followers you’ve dreamed of, a strict observance of the regulations that govern this world is a necessity.
By: Melissa Kirby