Social Media Etiquette Rules to Abide by

More than half the world now uses social media and around 316 million new users joined the online social sphere over the past year — as reported by Smart insights. While this phenomenon is leading to ever-increasing connections and the shortening of distances, it does have its downside — with excessive use linked to depression and other mental conditions. If you’ve ever found yourself muting someone, muttering under your breath that their content is simply annoying, or been offended by offensive content, then you may wish that users exercised better etiquette. To keep your own content in check, aim to follow a few essential sharing rules.

Rules on Over-Sharing

If in doubt as to whether your content is too risque, don’t post it. Whatever goes online has the potential to stay there forever, even if you delete it from your own site. Even if sharing personal content and imagery is ‘in’ in your particular circle, try to refrain. A 2017 University of Plymouth study found that people who adapt their uploads to match social media culture can indulge in risky, inappropriate posting behavior. You never know where you’ll be in five or 10 years’ time and you wouldn’t want to ruin a personal or professional opportunity by uploading inappropriate posts.

Respecting Others’ Wishes

If you have a friend that is very discreet and doesn’t want their information or photographs shared, it is important to respect this, avoiding uploading photos of them, tagging them, and the like. Weddings have social media rules too, which include brides and grooms sometimes asking guests to switch off their phones so that only professional, approved shots are shared (this is especially important for celebrity-type couples). You should also put the couple first — for instance, you may wish to take the perfect shot of the couple during the exchange of vows but if you’re blocking their official photographer, you may end up on the couple’s bad books. Posting negative or unflattering posts about a loved one’s event is also a no-no. You may be very open and gregarious, for instance, but the person whose event you are photographing or recording may not share your sense of humor.

Nobody Likes a Bragger

When you go to a top restaurant, visit the country of your dreams, or celebrate an achievement, it is natural to want to share the news with friends and family but do so too often and you could be considered a ‘bragger’. While everyone has a right to share whatever they wish, it is also important to be in tune with the times and to understand that friends may be struggling financially or emotionally and that people who present a ‘picture-perfect life’ can annoy others. As found in a 2016 study published in the Journal of Individual Differences, people who brag were more likely to be less agreeable, conscientious, and empathetic while those who do so and mass-share their ‘fabulous news’ are likely to have “high levels of narcissism.”
As the popularity of social media continues to grow, so, too, are the number of rules in the etiquette book. Some of the most important include maintaining discretion, avoiding bragging, and taking others’ wishes for privacy into account. There are many more rules to follow — including avoiding the overuse of hashtags, posting a text with mistakes, and texting after drinking. The ultimate consideration to keep in mind is that you cannot erase the effects of a post once you have clicked ‘upload’.
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