10 things you shouldn’t do on a social network

Social networking has become commonplace; so commonplace, in fact, that most of the time we forget that we’re actually doing it. I see Facebook updates that were clearly intended for just a few close friends but were instead broadcast to the world; I see Pinterest ‘pins’ that wouldn’t be out of place in an adult magazine; and I see Twitter conversations that would make a drunken sailor blush. While members of Congress and the Electronic Frontier Foundation still worry about privacy, everyone else seems to have thrown caution to the wind.

Part of it is surely the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt – we are so used to Facebook and Twitter that we are no longer careful about what we say – and part of it is the easy access to social networks through mobile devices. Smartphones and apps have made it so easy to post a photo or respond to an update, that we don’t stop to think about the consequences.

So before we all slip into the trap of Facebook complacency or instant, irrational tweets, here are a few reminders of what you might not want to do on those popular social networks:

1. Don’t say you hate your job
Your boss may be an idiot and your job may be boring but it’s still a job, and in an age of 8 percent unemployment, complaining about what you have – and millions of others don’t – is rarely going to help you make friends.

2. Don’t get into an argument
A difference of opinion is OK; a full-blown argument is definitely taboo. If you want to descend into virtual mud-slinging, post your comments on YouTube along with all the other name-callers.

3. Don’t get personal
Similarly, just because your boyfriend dumped you or you have some dirt on the office manager, it doesn’t mean that you have the green light to share unflattering gossip online. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is the perfect maxim for the Internet age.

4. Don’t ask for favors
You’ve just entered a competition for blog of the year; or you’ve started a web site for home-made jewelry. Ask once for votes or Likes and your friends will be only too happy to support you. Ask three or four times and you become a pest.

5. Don’t boast
It’s OK to let people know you just got promoted or you just got a brand new car but be subtle – and grateful. Humility goes a long way on the Internet.

6. Don’t clutter up your friends’ feeds with trivia
It may come as a surprise but most people really don’t care what you had for breakfast. And they care even less what your breakfast looked like. Hold your updates for when you have something to say. As in real life, people will pay far more attention when you do speak up.

7. Don’t constantly check-in
You’re at the Laundromat; now you’re at the dog park; now you’re at Starbucks; now you’re at the wine store… OK, we get the picture – you have a lot of time on your hands!

8. Don’t party too hard
If you like a drink, chances are your friends already know. If they don’t, then it might be wise to keep it that way. Constant shots of you downing shots will do little for what’s left of your online reputation.

9. Don’t express extreme political views
The last four Presidential elections were won by a collective margin of seven percentage points. Express strong political views and 50 percent of your friends and followers will agree with you and 50 percent won’t. 100 percent will refuse to sit next to you at future dinner parties.

10. Don’t post pictures of kids (unless they’re yours)
While you may think it’s great to post all those pics of your 5-year-old’s birthday party, the parents of all his friends may think differently. Ask permission before you post pictures of other people’s kids. Come to think of it, ask permission before you post pictures of other people, period.

What other posts do you not like to see on social networks? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

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