How Good Is Your Social Media Etiquette?

Naaila Khan

I think we all agree on this postmodern truth: the internet is a deep, dark hole, and social media is one lawless place. 

When’s a good time to send a friend request? Why do some of us feel compelled to send game requests in bulk? And when are pokes supposed to be used anyway? (Spoiler alert: never.)

All very valid questions at a time when our phones are basically extensions of ourselves and our worldview – and I mean, who’s to blame? How Not To Behave Like An Idiot On Social Media 101 wasn’t a university module as far as I can remember, but here we are, millennials at the top of the food chain, socially speaking, and in dire need of a social media etiquette class.

Consider this my two cents in a bid to make this filtered reality a pleasant one to live in – one status update at a time.

Since Facebook came into our lives way back in 2006 (yes, it’s been that long), we’ve been grappling with the idea of juggling double lives – the one we actually live and the virtual one where we only showcase our best selves. But then again guys, it has been a decade – we’ve ought to have learnt a thing or two! Here are a couple, ICYMI:

– If you’re addicted to a silly game, do not assume that your entire friends list will be into crushing candies too – just accept it as something you do for you and reserve the invitations for when you actually know the other person will appreciate daily notifications from you.

– Send out friend requests sparingly: “Hey, remember we met at that food truck festival last week and gushed over our mutual love for momos? I think that qualifies us as friends!” If that’s how you roll, go ahead by all means, but if you’ve just met someone and plan on adding them right after, give them a casual heads up or you may risk looking like a stalker. Your call.

And this might just be me, but a breakup requires a warning IRL that the ex is going to be tossed out from your virtual world as well – unless you want to be referred to as the immature one in the relationship.

– There’s this thing we all tend to do by virtue of simply being vain little beings – posting a picture where you look #onfleek and your friend looks like Caitlyn Jenner minus the truckloads of makeup, and then tagging them in it. Don’t do it. Everyone knows what you’re doing and they’re all judging you. Reserve that picture for your own viewing pleasure or crop the heinous-looking friend out, if you don’t mind pulling off a Kim K


We’ve all been there – you’re on your ex’s current girlfriend’s (or romantic interest’s) Instagram, late at night in bed, and you’ve just double-tapped a picture of her from 143 weeks ago, smiling from ear to ear with her terrier – and you didn’t even like the picture that much! What you can do: not much besides cringe, bury your face in your pillow and hope she’ll have too many notifications to notice yours. But as much as you’d like to delude yourself, she will – and it’s done. Go to sleep.

But in the case it’s not someone you’re telepathically sending out evil vibes to, save yourself the pity party and know that it’s okay – browsing someone’s ‘gram till your fingers ache, or in other words, stalking (let’s just call a spade a spade, okay?) is a completely acceptable practice in this day and age. Feigning ignorance is unnecessary, so peace out.

Also unnecessary? Hashtagging every word. There’s a not-so-fine, very clear, literally staring-you-in-the-face line between a caption for a picture and hashtags. I get hashtags are fun, but limit the phrase ‘going all out’ to a game of poker or multiple orders at McDonald’s – don’t go all out on these: ####.

In short, if your hashtags per picture exceed a total of four and you’re not a blogger / Kardashian / Jenner, you might want to pare it down.


Also, a humble request: Please stop the cat pictures! We’ve seen enough #KittensofInstagram for a lifetime, so much so that we’d even pick humblebrags over one more feline pic any day of the week. Besides, it’s all about #pandaswag right now!


It’s scary to imagine a time without Snapchat – where else could you have posted a blow by blow account of your entire day, down to your amazing 4 course meal without becoming a social media outcast? (Not Instagram for sure – if you didn’t get the memo; unless you’re a food blogger, #foodporn is now passé, you guys.)

Though our new favourite SM platform might seem hate-proof, there’s still room to slip up.

Exhibit A: those Snapchatters who think it’s okay to also send their Snap Story individually to everyone – a) why? b) you’re not winning any popularity contests, so stop.

Exhibit B: Watching you sunbathe in Santorini is definitely FOMO-inducing, agreed, but a 120 seconds-long series of the same blue rooftops isn’t doing anything for anybody – though we have the option of tapping forward (which we’re definitely doing). Tip: Switch it up – we’d love to see some of those hot Greek guys too!

Exhibit C: Snapchatters who try out all the damn filters and make it one long, pointless Story: Go ahead, experiment your look with a pair of puppy ears or as an evil bunny, but spare us the unending visuals. Faux pas X 10.


Logging Out:

Finally, let’s all just quit the fakery. Everybody knows everybody indulges in a fair amount of online stalking, so let’s not be self-aggrandizing sticks in the mud and lose the holier-than-thou attitude. Instead, the next time you bump into that girl you were somewhat close to one summer ages ago, ask her how her trip to Krabi trip was in 2012 and tell her how much you loved her cute bikini. Because clearly, you remember. And because isn’t that the point of social media – to share?

It’s a precarious game, and all of us are mere rookies. I don’t have all the answers, and neither do you, so let’s just give our updates a sprinkling of common sense and log out knowing we’re making our virtual world a better one to live in, capiche? 




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