Social media has provided me with many positive opportunities. However, it is also one of the most frustrating, productivity-destroying parts of modern life. I firmly believe that we can make social media a bit healthier for ourselves and others. So, with that in mind, here are 8 social media practices we should have left in 2018.
1. Clicking On Clickbait That Goes Nowhere
Have you been seeing exciting titles and misleading pictures, only to click on the article and find 500 tampon ads one after the other? Yeah, me too. We’ve all let catchy titles or enticing images lure us in, just like the media racks at the checkout lane used to. It makes sense that online, the intensity goes up by about 100. How else are people supposed to make money?
Understanding it doesn’t mean we have to like it, though. And it’s especially galling when we have less and less free time to spare. We all have bills to pay, but stop being lazy and get to the point. I don’t want to scroll past a million ads before I get to the part of the article that wasn’t covered in the title.
Social media is a great place for mudslinging. Regardless of whether it’s a stranger or a pair of your relatives, there’s nothing quite like tagging a person who will be upset by something in the comments, then sitting back with popcorn to watch the drama unfold.
The problem with snitching on someone via social media is that, one way or another, you are infringing on a private space. Even when the person is a public figure, like a writer or a film-maker, they don’t need to see every opinion under the sun about their work. They have editors who give them constructive criticism, and they are bloody good at their jobs.
3. Reposting Without Permission
Doesn’t everybody hate it when a friend of ours writes something inspiring on their wall, but doesn’t allow for you to share it? Of course, that’s what screenshots are for, but surely they should have left the share button on so that you can pass their brilliance forward!
Not always, especially not when sharing violates someone’s privacy. Maybe, that message was only meant for a select audience. Maybe, that person wasn’t comfortable with the world seeing their early attempts at poetry or their political leanings. At the very least, people put time and energy into what they say, and they deserve proper credit. If you had the time to screenshot someone’s feed, you have time to check with them if it’s okay.
4 Dirty Deleting
If you are successful in starting a mud fight on social media, there are people who want to win so badly they will delete posts, or even entire threads, if things don’t go their way. It’s a way to keep your feed clean, but it’s also a way of saving face.
It’s pretty shitty, though. Not only do they maintain their innocence, but they remove all other contributions to the argument as well. Essentially, deleting posts tells everyone involved that their efforts and time don’t matter. And, because most people involved in social justice prioritise keeping the record straight over their own comfort, the people whose voices end up silenced are often those with less societal advantage.
And, honestly, it sucks.
5. Playing Devil’s Advocate
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “I hear your argument, but what about the abuser’s past?” Or, “What about the abuser’s feelings?” Or, “To play the devil’s advocate, what if there was an excuse for all this horror?”
Here’s a novel thought: What if we don’t care about the devil’s motives? Take your lazy arguments, shoot them straight into the sun… and remove them from my Facebook post.
6. Laundry Airing
What’s better than settling a score from 10 years ago on the virtual square? Having a private chat about your personal grievances is so declasse these days. Why, the truly brave thing to do would be to duke it out on social media, where you can mute anyone who disagrees and upvote anyone who takes your side. Truly, what a magical time to be alive! #sarcasm
Sorry, but if you made it to your computer to air your dirty laundry, you’ve missed your window. You’re not making some grand public service announcement, you’re just being petty.
7. Outing People Online
If it’s not your sexuality, diagnosis, or other private information, then don’t share it. Let people decide when and where to live openly for themselves.
There’s two reasons for that. First, you don’t know their circumstances enough to know how the news will impact their lives. Second, nobody owes you their “coming out.” People need to share on their own timetable, and stealing that moment from them is just an asshole move.
8. Grilling People In Safe Spaces
The Internet has enabled wonderful communities to sprawl everywhere. It has also enabled some pretty horrid behaviours to sprawl around it, including the cross-examination of every member about their exact lives and circumstances.
Having dedicated and separate spaces is awesome. Turning every single social justice forum and post into a cred checking exercise is not. Nobody needs to prove that they are a true fan of that obscure but trendy band or that they are in fact a full member of the social group listed. Grilling people who want to belong is obnoxious at best and silencing at worst. Just because I don’t have Y chromosome in my body doesn’t mean I have to complete a metal music history exam just to say I like Iron Maiden.
In the end of the day, we can cry about what we see on the Internet all day every day. But it’s what we do about it that matters. If we are serious about creating a better world for ourselves and those that come after us, we need to lead by example, respect people’s privacy, take accountability for our actions, and be smart about how we confront what we believe is wrong.