THE BLOG

How to Be a Great Social Media Friend (Or How Not to Be a Bad One)

24/04/2013 18:09 BST | Updated 24/06/2013 10:12 BST

Social media is responsible for a lot of things in my opinion. Some good, like the chance to catch up with loved ones living far away, share pictures of friends and family and enjoy the ever- ready onslaught of cute kittens doing entertaining things with light sabres. Time-wasting has indeed come a long way since the days of solitaire and ability to page-minimise at preternatural speed.

In life though, the good must always be tempered by the bad and social media is no different. In truth those of us not in possession of amazing social skills in real-life can also struggle in the digital-landscape. Top of my list of social-offenders:

  • The bad ex-partner - Ex-partners you wished would never re-emerge sending endless reminders to be their "friend". Seriously, how about no, I didn't like you very much when you had teeth and the potential to be a nice person; a balding pate and four kids by three different women, one of whom you still date isn't really likely to change my mind now is it?
  • The needy whiner - Now let me be clear, I do not mean people genuinely having a hard time or the odd rotten day sharing it with their friends. Social media can be a great way to get a quick pick me up or say 'help' when you need to without actually having to call round and disturb people. I do mean attention seeking types posting an endless stream of "oh the world is so awful; please don't ask me why though.........." Call me heartless and cruel but this is the point I like to hit hide. Can I suggest that if this is you, you may benefit far more from the support of a good therapist then you will a Twitter feed?
  • The friend-stealer - The person you introduce to your other friends at a function, whom you don't even really like, who suddenly friends them all only to start posting pictures of them at lunch three weeks later....sans you!
  • The inappropriate sharer - Porn pictures, rude jokes, endless bad language, toilet habits, rows with the other half...the list here is pretty endless. Putting it simply if you don't show your Nan pictures of topless girls kissing in the real world, why would you do it on-line?
  • And my personal bug-bear... The social show-off

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Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

Call me neurotically self-conscious but I am not a fan of a show-off in real life so on my feed it really drives me nuts. You know the type, the person who manages to spend their Saturday morning hang-gliding with famous people before learning a new language and going for lunch with everyone you have ever known, all of whom forgot to invite you.

Each and every moment of their oh so exciting lives are photographed and posted for posterity and then commented upon by at least a thousand people, leaving you with a nasty feeling of insecurity (read: jealousy) as though you are somehow missing out, despite the fact that you might find toilet training your two year old WAY more exciting than steaks at the Ivy.

The simple fact is that social media has granted the opportunity to us all to position ourselves as celebrities in our own universes. The upshot of this is that as a social collective we can effect great change but some people invariably take this too far and the pressure to perform on our own little platforms becomes a seeming obsession, ultimately destined to render us 'un-friended' by those less needy, or simply less self-obsessed.

Now the fact is, your life is your life and you have the right to live it however you like, my jealous nature not-withstanding, however after a quick straw poll of some of my own social friends, I have found that there are a few almost universal annoyances that most of us share. I have shared them here as some top tips on what NOT to post on social media:

  1. Chain/Guilt posts: I am sure you find it very interesting that there are starving guinea pigs in outer Mongolia, that a smile a day will ultimately bring us millions (provided we post on to twenty people) and that a little boy with a missing fingernail will be offered a chance to swim with turnips if he gets seven hundred likes. We do not.
  2. Game Requests: Yes, you may need seventy new bales of hay for your digital farm, fourteen new dresses for your digital shop or have just played the latest version of "Sugar Squish" but we are actually sitting next to you, doing your work whilst you build your fake empire. Get back to work slacker and stop filling up our inboxes with requests.
  3. Moaning about 'friends' without saying who it is: Firstly if you are mad at someone, call them and tell them. Posting on Facebook is both insanely passive aggressive and intensely irritating for the naturally nosey. Either get a place on the Jeremy Kyle show or tell us who it is so we can agree with you or not.
  4. Touched up 'selfies': Now as a vain, ageing woman with Instagram I can so understand the appeal of this and in fact have a tendency to indulge in the odd filter myself, but really, we know you don't look like that in real life and if you do we are already jealous. Save it for the dating sites.
  5. Posting endless marketing plugs on behalf of businesses doing "viral" stuff: If I get something viral in real life, I get antibiotics. Online I delete. Permanently. Social Media is for socialising, not obviously commission selling. Tell the brand to get a marketing budget and move on.

Disclaimer: If you happen to know me in real life, yes I know I can tick at least three of those. Yes, I know it's irritating. Yes, I will try to change. Maybe. Next edition - How to De-Friend someone on Facebook...