October 3, 2016
It’s true what they say: you’re nobody ’til somebody “likes” you.
No matter what your feelings are about social media, you’re probably up to your nuts in it. In fact, you’re probably only reading what I’m writing right now because you clicked a link one of the many social networking sites.
Cast your mind back to your earliest social media memory; if you’re over 25 years old, it’s probably going to be MySpace. Oh, MySpace! Sweet, sweet MySpace. All you needed to know to survive on there was how to take a belting high-angle selfie, and whether or not to say you took drugs on your profile to look badass – lest your mother find your profile and see it.
Things are trickier now though. Not only are we using social media to find love but we’re using it to connect with work colleagues, keep in touch with family and pretty much upload our entire lives for everyone to see.
Social media is a minefield, but fear not, because I am here to help. Follow my helpful hints and you’ll nail having a busy social (media) life.
Be careful what you put out there
The second you hit that button your status update/tweet/photo/etc. is out in the world and there is no taking it back. Sure, you can delete it, but that won’t make it go away. We live in a time of screenshots, so if you’re uploading something that people might make a copy of for whatever reason, think twice, because you’ll no longer have control of that material. So whether it’s a photo of you in your underwear or a rant about your boss, think very carefully. Look, you’re a grown person, you don’t need me telling you not to take and send photos of yourself in the nip. Anyone who has lived through the Fappening/Snappening (when supposedly self-destructing Snapchat photos were leaked online) knows that there is a certain degree of risk when you decide do anything with sensitive material. Think very carefully about what you’re uploading, where it might end up and the consequences of it being seen before you put it online.
Pick your audiences
It might be a smart idea to think about who your audience is for each thing that you post. For example, who you are on Twitter can be a very different person to who you are on Facebook. Personally, I think this is great. It means that you can tailor your updates accordingly, so that when you’re enthusing about The Great British Bake Off you can talk about the food on Facebook (where your gran is) and the dirty things you want to with Paul Hollywood on Twitter (where @PaulHollywood is, thus increasing your chances). If you really don’t want to be juggling different personalities on different social media accounts, then you’re going to want to refine the ones you already have. Protecting your tweets will mean that only the people who you want to follow you will be allowed to see your tweets, rather than the general public. Limiting your audiences on Facebook means that you can add certain people to certain lists, and then you can control what the people on each list can see.
If you’re a regular Girlpanion reader, you’ll know exactly how I feel about online dating. However, if you insist on doing it, then stick to my advice so that you don’t get raped, murdered and dumped in the river (in varying order).
The goal of online dating is to find a SO, and while it might be tempting to try and make your profile as attractive as possible, it’s best in the long run if you are as genuine as possible. Don’t lie about what you do for work, don’t pretend you’re into hobbies that you’re really not into, and definitely don’t use photos that don’t accurately represent how you look now. Yes, people should talk to you and fall for you because you’re amazing, and not because you’re attractive, but no one likes to feel like they’ve been duped. When it comes to meeting up with potential love interests, be smart. Do everything you can to make sure that the person is exactly who they say they are – but even if they are, it’s not always easy to tell who is a psychopath. Keep your wits about you and a tight grip on your rape alarm, and no matter how charming a person may seem, only do what feels right for you.
Have some chill
So you’ve had a baby, and that baby is a beautiful miracle who you will love more than you thought physically possible. Naturally you’re going to want to post photos of the adorable little thing on Facebook, but have some chill. Of course you’re going to want to take a million photos of your baby but to everyone on Facebook, your baby just looks like every other baby on Facebook, and uploading millions of pictures every day is going to annoy some people. Ditto if you buy a new car – by all means, post photos (because what is Facebook for, if not showing off) but once we’ve seen a few pictures, we get it. If we’ve seen the front of the car and the car of the car and the side of the car, we probably don’t need to see the other side of the car because it’s a car and we all know what cars look like. On the other hand, it’s not going to ruin your day if someone uploads ten photos of their car everyday, is it? Don’t let things annoy you. This person is so happy about their baby/car/holiday that they want to proudly post photos, so just let them. If it’s really annoying you, hide them from your newsfeed.
Don’t believe everything you see
Everyone knows that social media is great for showing off, and while it’s great for you to be proud, it’s got the potential to make people jealous. If you’re looking around Instagram at different people’s profiles, and wishing you were that skinny, that beautiful, that rich, that successful… don’t, because things aren’t always what they seem. Have you ever tried to take a selfie, only to take three and then decide you look like a thumb and you should just stop? If you think the beautiful people of Instagram just take one photo and then upload it, think again. These people will often take 50+ photos before they get one that is good enough to publish, and even then, it might get a little post production. Use angles, filters and multiple takes to your advantage to boost your confidence, but know that everyone else is doing this too, so don’t worry. And if you’re thinking your life isn’t as good as other people’s online, know that anyone can post impressive looking photos that don’t actually mean anything. A picture is worth a thousand words, and on Instagram this essay often starts with ‘A girl spends two hours on her make-up before sitting on a parked stranger’s Ferrari while her long suffering boyfriend takes 100 photos from varying angles…’
Don’t be a bully
We’re all so brave when we’re hiding behind a keyboard, but it’s never a good idea to say something online to someone that you wouldn’t say to their face. That said, if what you are saying to people is creeping into bullying territory, you shouldn’t be saying it at all. Whether you’re trolling celebrities, people you know if real life or just random strangers – stop it. And if you’re being bullied yourself, know that you’re not alone and that there are things you can do. A friend of mine, musician Ryan Hamilton, has recently shared his story after being bullied online for two years. If you’re being bullied online, Ryan’s video is full of helpful info on how he caught his bully, and what it was like for him. Click here to check it out.
No one likes an attention seeker
It can be tempting to reach out to people on social media when you’re feeling the feels, but there’s a difference between reaching out and attention seeking. Posting a cryptic yet worrying status, only for people to bombard the comments with ‘you ok hun?’ is one of the biggest social media crimes you can commit – and the only thing that could possibly make it worse is replying ‘inbox me’. Keep your private business private, don’t tease people with potential juicy gossip. if your problems were that big, posting about it on social media would truly be the last thing on your mind, so just be thankful you don’t have any real problems.
Don’t argue on the internet
Arguing on the internet really is the most pointless thing you can do – especially with strangers. It’s just such a waste of time. Accept that everyone has different opinions and, yes, everyone might well be an absolute idiot, but that is their problem. If you know that you’re right, just be happy that you’re not an idiot. It can be tempting to wade in on debates when people are being ignorant, closed-minded or just straight up offensive, but chances are they’re a troll who just wants someone to bite so that they can argue. Don’t fuel the fire.
Learn how to spot a catfish/scam
There are people online who are lying and trying to take advantage of you – watch out for them. Never just believe people, as sad as this advice sounds, it’s important. There are a few tips and tricks for working out if people really are who they say. Reverse searching an image will show you other places it is posted online. Typing someone’s phone number into Facebook will bring up the account associated with their number (and on their profile will be a wealth of information). I’m not saying it is necessary to go all MI5 on everyone you meet, but don’t be naive. Also, no one is going to give you a free iPhone, so don’t click that link.
If you’re lying, it will be your downfall
If you are lying, the truth will out – and it will probably be because of social media. If you’re cheating on your SO or lying to your boss, you need to be fantastic liar to get away with it. Keeping up with your lies is a full-time job, and uploading things to social media will create a log of what you posted and when – coupled with the people you associate with and the messages you send and it can be pretty damning.
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