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The 5 Commandments for Healthy Social Media Use

The social media sites we are presented with nowadays are millions in numbers – and they are growing by the minute. From Facebook to Twitter, Skype to LinkedIn, now there is a social media site to cater for our every need. Do you want to blog? Choose from WordPress, Blogspot, or Typepad. Need ideas for a bathroom makeover? Do not fret, Pinterest is full of them. Want to learn how to cook, apply the perfect red lip, or braid your hair? YouTube has tutorials on all of those. Whatever your need is, there is a site to help you fulfil it.

Unfortunately, the rise of social media does not only brings us profits, but also some nuisances as well. Some are small and have only the slightest effect on us. Like being friends with people who over share on Facebook. Agreeing to go out with a friend only to have her focusing 90% of her attention to tweeting. Others, however, present vast difficulties and affect our feelings. Cyber-bullying, for instance. More and more cowards are hiding behind fake online names to abuse others, a lot of the times those they do not even know in real life. Those who are being cyber-bullied often have to close their accounts, some do not let it affect them, but some get depressed. Only little dare to fight back.

Thankfully, these nuisances can be avoided. Below are The 5 Commandments for Healthy Social Media Use. I have followed these rules for years and so far they’ve worked for me.

1. Do not over share

Please keep private information to yourself. Private does not only mean your phone number and your address, but also the day you start your monthly cycle, any problem you may have ‘down there’, or any relationship problem you’re currently facing with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you need to ask you friends’ opinions, do it privately. Facebook has the option to send a private message. Twitter has a direct message. Don’t post it publicly, because, believe me, not everyone wants to read it.

It’s great that your baby is so cute and you can’t resist to post pictures of him or her on your Facebook wall. But there is such a thing as over-sharing photos. I am so glad Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were non-existent the days of my childhood. I don’t want my friends to see me dancing naked on YouTube (yes, someone I know post her baby dancing naked on YouTube). Before you post that photo of your baby, the one that you think is too cute to be kept only for your personal amusement, think about what your child would say when they’re old enough to have their own Facebook? Would they be happy seeing so many of their pictures online?

2. Honour your real life connections

Don’t ditch real friends for Facebook. Next time you’re out with someone, really invest in that quality time. Tweeting or checking out your Facebook can wait. Facebook is good for keeping in touch with out-of-town friends or family, but for those you can meet up with face to face, do that. You don’t want to be someone who spends more time socializing online.

3. No profanity, please

I never use profanity in social media. I think that with the freedom that social media bestows upon us, comes the great responsibility to control what we say. Why can’t we just say something is cool without adding the word f***ing in front of it? Being able to control what we say shows class. Also remember that more and more employers are including social media into their recruitment process. A tweet full of profanity may not land you your dream job.

4. Vent somewhere else

It is so often that I open my twitter and find this girl I know venting about her bad day, about how her mother drives her absolutely crazy, or about her boyfriend who is again very, very late. Why does she think the world needs to know that is lost to me. The world doesn’t need to know our problems. If you need to vent, do it on your journal or find a trusted friend and pour out your feelings to her.

Just like profanity, venting can turn an employer away from you. If your Facebook wall (I do believe employers can see our walls, even the protected ones) or your twitter are full of your random, unnecessary venting, you may be judged as needy or emotionally unstable. True, it is wrong to judge a person by her Facebook wall post, but good employers receive thousands of applications. The weirdos will be cast aside first.

5. Mind the choices you make

Do not post a silly question on Twitter. Ever. I read a story in Cleo Magazine about a girl named Georgia, who tweeted: Does the Wimbledon always been held in London? Her question got re-tweeted thousands of times and people thought she was stupid. She received rude, hurtful tweets from strangers, like: “Clearly not the sharpest tool in the toolbox” and “Do you even finish third grade?” These questions hurt Georgia deeply and she closed her account a month later. Learn from Georgia and think before you post something on twitter. People are mean.

Also consider the cost before you post that picture of you getting drunk and dancing on tables. I have a feeling employers won’t like that.

Have you ever read the story about a woman who gets fired after bitching about her boss on her Facebook wall? Turns out they’re friends and she’s told not to bother coming to work on Monday. It’s not only embarrassing. It is horrifying. And it brings me back to point number 3 and 4.

These examples, albeit extreme, clearly prove you have to be mindful of your choices in social media.

These five commandments have helped me keep my social media use healthy. I put my real life connections above any social media ones. I have never had any encounters with bullies. And by keeping my Facebook and Twitter clean, they’re not a threat to any job application I might send in the future.

Follow my rules or create your own. Let’s keep our social media use healthy!

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