Social Media Etiquette for Students: What You Need to Know
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It’s become an undeniable force in everyday life, and social media literacy can be an important tool for connections of all ilk. But, as there are good and bad ways to do just about anything, social media is no exception.
We live in the days of STFU, Parents and LameBook, and shaming sites for over-sharers and idiots abound. The best of these? PleaseRobMe.Com, whose mission is raising awareness about over-sharing. It can’t be denied that the rise of social media has revolutionized the way we perceive our interactions, and our concepts of public, private, and abstract spaces have also fundamentally changed.
And, as always, there are new rules for the budding student. Mind your manners; once you publish something on the Internet, there’s a log of it somewhere. Learn from the mistakes of my generation — Facebook first launched while I was in college. Here’s what you need to know:
Rule #1: If you drink, befriend Airplane Mode.
Especially when you’re in college. Take some pressure off yourself, people. Some social media services even have “drafts” folders. Think before you post, or write down your update and save it for another time. Same goes for text messages.
Rule #2: Use “The Thumper Defense.”
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” — Thumper, Bambi
College is a time of real personal expression and “finding oneself.” You should do that intentionally. Never apologize for being your most authentic self. But etiquette is about making others feel comfortable, and you need to be aware that positivity wins the day.
Don’t ever be intentionally rude, and never antagonize someone. Funny and snarky is OK, but gauge your audience. Paul Chambers was recently admonished by U.K. courts in the now infamous Twitter Joke Trial. Not all jokes are funny; not all snark is welcome. Judge your audience, and always err on the side of goodness.
Rule #3: Your mother, your future boss, and Future You are watching.
It doesn’t mean you have to be a conformist. But it does mean that the following things are off-limits:
- Pictures of you with a beer bong.
- Pictures of you with a regular bong.
- Pictures of you spray painting the statues’ noses on campus.
- Bad-humored tirades about your parents. Especially if they’re paying for anything.
- Unprofessional updates about coworkers, your boss, or professors. If you have a lick of sense, your policy will be this: all colleagues, coworkers, and supervisors are positive (or neutral) forces in your life. If one becomes negative, deal with it appropriately, and offline. See Rule #2.
- Anything passive aggressive. If you don’t have it in you to be aggressive, you’re just gassing.
- Anything you wouldn’t be proud of in five years. This includes self-portraits. And boyfriends.
You’ll probably learn this the hard way. Everyone does.
If you have a social media addiction and tend to share intimate life details often, avoid sharing negatively. If half-hearted Internet responses are your primary means of emotional support — consider rethinking some life choices and your attention-seeking behavior. Be a grown-up. Get a dog. Go outside. Read a book. Make a friend. Throw a regular party. There are lots of organic ways to deal.
Social media can be addicting — getting feedback and refreshing feeds activates the same neurotransmitter as cocaine, and all it costs you is your precious time. Seek validation only from within, and you’ll be able to manage yourself, online and off. Everyone makes mistakes, but do your best to present the best and most honest version of yourself online.
It’s not unlikely that you
waste spend much more time using social media than you think. And what you spend your time on, say the philosophers, is who you are. Make sure you’re managing balance in your life — selectively practicing etiquette online is a good first step.
And if you really like and have a talent for garnering online attention, consider parlaying it into a job. The only true currency you have in life is time, and the only other one that matters is money. That’s what I did. And in five years, I’ll be proud that I shared this, too.
Huffington Post: Essential Social Media Etiquette for College Students
LifeHack: How To Avoid Getting Fired By Facebook