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A resolution for 2014: 14 rules for social media etiquette

Happy New Year!

Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to just tweet #happynewyear #2014 @Nola4Eva. After all, expressing oneself via social media streams is more common that actual conversations these days. At some point, however, enough is enough.

Facebook debuted in 2004, Twitter was created in 2006 and Instagram joined the scene in 2010. According to a study conducted last year, one in four people worldwide use some sort of social network. Consequently, as members of a growing online society, we should all have an idea by this point of what content is appropriate to post and what information you should probably keep to yourself.

Therefore, I propose a set of social media guidelines to follow as we commence a new year. In honor of 2014, here are the 14 rules you should adhere to when engaging in social media activity:

1. Less really is more. Most of us are guilty of over-friending. You probably don't need to be friends with that chick you met while backpacking five years ago. Showing restraint and following people who you actually care about or ones who often have interesting things to say will be a lot more rewarding than knowing intimate details about the lives of people you have no real-world connection to. If you would feel too awkward to acknowledge someone in person, you likely are not anything close to friends, even in an online sense.

2. Instead of taking the predictable selfie shot, opt for a more creative form of expression. Selfies are just so 2013. Although the term originated in Australia in 2002 (thank you, Wikipedia), the word exploded onto the social scene last year. In November 2013, selfie was deemed the "word of the year" by the Oxford English Dictionary. Even President Obama participated in the craze. A new year deserves a new trend.

3. Be honest! It's natural to create an online persona that is self-inflated. Several studies prove that this trend is one of the reasons that social media can negatively effect happiness. Just remember when you portray an inauthentic view of yourself, you justifiably risk being de-friended or un-followed.

#3 - unfriend

4. Please, PLEASE do not post about your workout routine. I applaud you for being healthy and even keeping up with that resolution I abandoned on January 2nd. And I realize that social support can have a positive effect on achieving your fitness goals. However, take a moment to decide if you need to share these accomplishments with everyone on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. Most people just do not care that you ran 10 miles in 30 minutes or benched 50 pounds 100 times. Using a niche platform is more appropriate for sharing your latest workout endeavors (check out these five social fitness tools).

5. Expressing your support for your favorite sports team is always acceptable and, in fact, encouraged. For example, Saints fans are allowed to post "Who Dat" or "Geaux Saints" as often as their black-and-gold hearts desire. Do not, however, make a habit of insulting fans of others team as karma is a fact of life. Exception: If you are a fan of the Falcons, Panthers, Niners or Pats, please disregard this statement as, in my personal opinion, you could use a bit of karma.

6. Creating an online persona for your updates is just odd. Fly your freak flag under your real name instead of hiding behind a social pseudonym. It's a slippery slope to catfish-ing. Just ask Manti Te'o about that one. And  in 2014 you probably don't need a pseudonym if you're on the job hunt (unless you're trying to join the CIA). Frankly, I don't want to work in an office environment that judges me on my pong capabilities.

 

7. Only post photos that are flattering to ALL subjects (and be wary of filter choice). Everyone knows that feeling of utter dread when a notification pops up that a particular friend has tagged you in a photo. Don't be that person!

8. Avoid complaining about work. Work universally sucks, so this is not a revelation. The purpose of checking social media feeds during the workday is to escape that reality.

9. It is OK to be creative in your use of hashtags. Personally, I think it's a great outlet for added entertainment. However, I think we can all agree that rarely do you need to use more than three, maybe four hashtags (otherwise it's just excessive). Also, avoid overly long, made-up hashtags because they are not enjoyable to decipher. #thismadeuphashtagissohardtoreaditsinsane

10. Old photos are typically great and often hilarious but the same rules apply when posting an image in honor of #tbt (Throwback Thursday). If it was boring 15 years ago, it is likely still boring today. Also, photos from last week do not really qualify for "throwback" status.

11. Post content that might be of at least some interest to your followers. Social media platforms were created as a means to connect with others in a way that had never been done before. They were not created as an outlet to share every mundane thought you have throughout the course of the day. You're hungry? Great. I don't care.

12. Images of food are not that interesting. When someone posts a photo of a meal, it just makes me hungry but I can't share this fact (see rule #11). And the food is clearly getting cold if a photo had to be posted prior to its consumption. As a New Orleanian, I find that completely absurd.

13. Photos of kids are typically quite adorable. However, if your social feed is a nonstop chronicle of your child's every waking moment, I will likely avoid your posts like I avoid Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. I understand the urge as I have to use self-restraint to avoid posting too many photos of my pets (my children for the time being). I would also like to hold onto the hope that life after kids will include interests outside of my children's daily habits. Exception: Posting photos of children in costumes or kids paired with animals is always acceptable.

14. Take the time to communicate with your loved ones in person. Put away your computer, tablet or smartphone and take the time to connect. Social media will never be a replacement for your best friend, significant other or therapist. I promise you that you can have fun without Tweeting, Instagramming or Facebooking the experience.

Native New Orleanian Megan Peck writes occasionally about lie in New Orleans for NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]