Social networking has become commonplace; so commonplace, in fact, that most of the time we forget that we are actually doing it. You see Facebook updates that were clearly intended for just a few close friends but were instead broadcast to the world; you also see Pinterest ‘pins’ that would not be out of place in an adult magazine; and you even see Twitter conversations that are super personal and intense. While members of Congress and the Electronic Frontier Foundation still worry about privacy, everyone else seems to have no interest in keep at least a little privacy and personal information.
Part of it is surely the old saying 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 answer to an update, that we do not 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 – although, perhaps, one of your posts or videos can go viral if you do the contrary:
Avoid saying you hate your job
Your boss may be a fool and your job may be boring, but it is still a job, and in an age of 8 percent unemployment, complaining about what you have – and millions of others do not – is rarely going to help you make friends.
Do not party too hard
If you like a drink, chances are your friends already know. If they do not, then it might be wise to keep it that way. Constant shots of you downing shots will do little for what is left of your online reputation.
Try not to express extreme political views
Express strong political views and 50 percent of your friends and followers will agree with you, and 50 percent will not. 100 percent will refuse to sit next to you at future dinner parties.
Do not post pictures of kids (unless they are 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.
Try not to 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.
Similarly, just because your boyfriend dumped you or you have some dirt on the office manager, it does not mean that you have the green light to share unflattering gossip online.
Try not to ask for favors
You have just entered a competition for the viral blog of the year; or you have 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.