Seven Deadly Social Media Sins

I teamed up with my dad to illustrate seven ways to go wrong on social media. (And I have done probably all of these things, just so we’re clear, here. I point the finger at myself.)  Please note that almost any of these can have a right and proper place, but these are the most common ones I’ve heard people complain about. So it’s all about balance. Feel free to complain about how much your neck is hurting, but limit complaints to once a quarter. Definitely tell us about your accomplishments so we can celebrate with you, but not so often that it just feels like all you talk about is YOU. And we want to see pictures of your baby: we really do. But maybe not three times a day.

1. “Look at my perfect life!”

We are so happy that you finally found that perfect vintage chaise longue to reupholster and put in the corner of your magazine-worthy living room. We are delighted that all of your children are above-average in every way, and perfectly behaved. We couldn’t be more glad that you are vacationing on white sand beaches.

It wouldn’t kill you to garnish your perfection with a sprig of reality, would it?

Sometimes, when we’re reading about Your Perfect Life, we feel like this:

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.00.02 AM

2. “Happy Birthday to the most sizzlingly hot wife a man ever had! Can’t wait to see you tonight, babe!”

Word on the street is that no one minds Public Displays of Affection on your anniversary, but that we’d prefer that most of your flirting not be available for public viewing. Because it makes us feel icky.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.12.28 AM

3. “Just finished a marathon/benched many pounds/demonstrated my physical prowess in other impressive ways!”

You deserve a medal! And maybe you got one. But please don’t make us all shine it for you, at least not every weekend. Feel free to invite us to celebrate the big accomplishments, but beware of posting all your physical activity. We just don’t need to know.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.19.43 AM

Closely related to “look at my perfect life,” but more tied into your own accomplishments or inherent intelligence/wit/fabulousness, beware the…

4. Bragging (even–or especially–covert)

I often do a little test before I post something. The test is “what is the sub-text here? Am I just boasting?” There are about a million ways to back-handedly convey the message: “I am awesome!” and we are all pretty good at decoding that message, so be ye not too sure of the covert nature of your operations.

Sometimes, you really are awesome. And when you are, you should tell us. But not too often, or we might stop caring.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.23.12 AM5. “Look at my baby!”

As I said in the intro, we all want to look at your baby! But if all your social media interaction is limited to baby photo posting, we might start to look away. Sometimes, it’s because we desperately want another baby (or just ONE baby!) and can’t have one. Sometimes, it’s because we want YOUR baby. (Kidding.)

Sometimes, forgive us, but we’re just bored.

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.27.38 AM6. “Click to read about how the other political party is destroying America!!!”

You are entitled to your political opinions, and you should feel free to share them on social media. But do be aware of what you’re sharing and why. Are you just displaying your own affiliations? Are you trying to convince someone who doesn’t already agree with you? Or are you just stirring the pot?

Most of the time, if we don’t already share your political views, your political posts leave us feeling unconvinced and possibly irritated. Or nauseated. Like this:

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.31.08 AM

Finally, we have:

7. “My back/neck/sinuses/feet/knees/legs/allergies/stomach is (are) killing me!”

One of the cheeriest and friendliest women I know in the world confided that she ‘unfollows’ repeat complainers. “You complain; you’re gone,” she explained simply. I understand. Listening to complaints can be a real drag.

We don’t expect you to be all Greatest Generation on us and never talk about how badly your exploded kneecap from Iwo Jima still hurts, but sometimes, when you do go on about your sniffles, we start to think about the dear old blind veteran amputee we know who never (or, okay, very rarely) talks about how much it all sucks, but is just happy to get his cup of coffee and shoot the bull:

Screen shot 2013-07-09 at 7.40.39 AMJust to recap: none of these are deadly in isolation. It’s just that if all your posts fall in one or another of these categories, we might start to click away.

This is not a closed canon of ‘sins,’ so…

What social media behaviors are an abomination in your eyes? 

Because we might be able to illustrate that for you.

{Besides ‘friends’ who share posts from their own blogs, ahem ahem? ;) }

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About Rachel Marie Stone
  • http://twitter.com/JAAndrews3 Jake Andrews (@JAAndrews3)

    Posting out-of-context, non-commented-upon Bible verses like you’re a daily flip calendar. I always want to post my own: ‘But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!”‘

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

      Oh, Jake. I hope that you do post that someday. I will ‘share.’

      • dad

        Just don’t ask for an illustration for that verse. Please.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

          Hahaha! Grossness.

      • Adriana

        Ewwww.

    • http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk drbexl

      Ha Ha Ha – you should! Friend of mine wrote a piece on this: http://bigbible.org.uk/2012/11/posts-promises-and-perennial-issues-darrenrhill-digidisciple/

      • dad

        Come to think of it, I could have a lot of fun with both of their expressions! By the way, when I drew these yesterday I was wearing a red “Keep Calm and Carry On” t shirt. Curious.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

          Yeah, it wouldn’t have to be hugely disgusting.

      • http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk drbexl

        Trying to reply to ‘dad’ … Not that curious considering how many there are :-) It’s my little claim to fame, I wrote about it in my PhD before it was famous, and that’s the story you’ll hear quoted everywhere :-) #notbraggingtho

  • http://redeemedstories.com Louise

    I think you have covered a lot of them here. Twitter bugbears for me are retweets of #ff mentions and retweets of every tweet that mentions you.

    Also, passive aggressive posts and sub tweeting – no need!

  • http://www.amyboucherpye.com Amy Boucher Pye

    When someone corrects my grammar or usage on social media it makes me want to scream. And yes, I’m an editor. It’s social media guys. Life’s really too short.

    • Lori

      Oh yes. Me, too! Sheesh!

      Here’s another: rapid fire sports related updates (“Score!!!!!” “Hit ‘em harder next time, would ya???” “I’m dying here!”). Drives me crazy. That belongs in the Twitter-sphere, IMO.

      Oo-oo! One more: Vague, dramatic posts (“I feel like giving up.”) with no further explaination (“I don’t want to talk about it.”) that feel like a plea for attention.

      Final note: I thank God all the time that fb wasn’t around when I was a teen!!

      • http://www.amyboucherpye.com Amy Boucher Pye

        Amen. I do pray for my primary-school kids. I hear from friends with teens about how slamming it can feel not only not to be invited to the party by the ‘in’ crowd, but then to have to see all the related photos as a reminder of the rejection.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

          That sounds brutal. :(

  • http://classicalquest.blogspot.com Adriana

    Rachel, I can’t think of anymore deadly social media sins at the moment — These are all really good. I’m chuckling and nodding in agreement through this whole post. BUT I just HAVE to say — I LOVE your dad’s illustrations! Oh my word! The hamster was a real treat the other day and now I’m officially blown away. You two make a great team! :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

      Doesn’t he do amazing work!? (Oops, I’m bragging.)

      • Adriana

        Bragging in this case is totally OK. ;-)

        And come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind to see more “Look at my dad!” posts on the web.

  • http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk drbexl

    Great content/illustration – although I’m not bothered if people post their fitness goals, etc. as often it’s a form of accountability for them … my eyes will just skim over them if I’m not interested :-)

  • http://mylifeonthebalancebeam.wordpress.com Jeremy M.

    The YouTuber – Only ever posts videos from youtube. It may be cats, it may be music videos, but there is rarely a post that isn’t video related.

    The Overly Cute Couple – A typical day is seeing I love you ____ either as their status or if you’re friends with both, seeing it as a conversation between them. Cute if done only so often, but can be overdone quickly. Is somewhat related to number 2.

  • Polly

    My biggest annoyances are those “If you love Jesus, ‘like’ and share” posts. My faith and my love are not to be measured by whether I like your cheesy photo/slogan/tool of judgement.

    Those passive-aggressive ones really irritate me too… “Some people are so horrible. Why do I try?” etc, eliciting comments like “aww, what’s wrong Hun? Who’s upsetting you? It’s not fair because you’re lovely”.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

      Oh, both of those are bad in different ways. I saw one delightfully horrible drawing of ‘Jesus’ with the caption “Is there room for ME on your [Facebook] wall?” Gimme a break!

    • dad

      Some years ago “Honk if You Love Jesus” bumper stickers were quite common. On several occasions I did just that, and got nothing but annoyed looks and gestures of exasperation in response. Evidently the drivers in question had forgotten about their own stickers. To their credit, however, none of the gestures involved the single-digit salute.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rachelmariestone Rachel Marie Stone

        Hahaha! There’s a Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai honks at people with honk bumper stickers to see what their reactions are.

    • http://www.bex-lewis.co.uk drbexl

      I’ve heard people label those ‘like’ ‘share’ etc posts as bullying, because people are worried that they won’t be seen as ‘holy’ enough if they don’t share. If it’s a good pic, with a sentiment I’m interested in I might share it (so long as it doesn’t have share if you love Jesus on it) – let it stand on its own merits!

  • http://Www.avaughn7.blogspot.com Ann

    You hit the nail on the head! But, what about the “daily selfie”. I’ve recently started removing people from my feed because of the multitude of self pics. How many times can you like or comment on a persons pic when the only difference between today’s and yesterday’s is the color of the shirt? Once in a while is ok. There is no need for more than 2 a week. The same goes for feet by the pool pictures. (Although there aren’t too many of those this summer because of all of the rain) :)

    • http://kadeesmeds.blogspot.com Kadee

      Yes–the self pics! I’ve thought about posting my own as a joke, but I’m pretty sure I would offend a lot of well-intentioned (if somewhat self-obssessed?) people.

  • Liz

    I agree with the commenter, Vaguebooking…..Posting something so Vague you are obviously trying to draw attention from everyone you know.

    “The worst thing in the world happened today”

    “I haven’t stopped crying all day”

    “blah blah blah”

    If you don’t want to post full details of something you are better off not posting anything at all.

  • JCS

    Here’s one I’ve witnessed recently (unfortunately): Posting Bible verses without explanation (and usually taken out of context) as a passive aggressive way to point out your disagreement with someone who will know that you are talking about them…often used in church controversies/splits. For example,

    “Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, For I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day.”

    This has caused me to want to blog about it but I need to wait a few months or else I would be guilty of a passive aggressive retaliation.

    • JCS

      …And for the record, that verse was just an example, no one actually posted that directed towards me.

  • http://susangilbertcollins.wordpress.com susangilbertcollins

    Wonderful stuff here! My own pet peeve is any post that pressures me to cut, paste, and re-post something. The vast majority of these requests feel manipulative (“I know that 95% of my so-called friends will not re-post this…”), and I respond by never, ever, ever re-posting anything. Ever. Mentioning Jesus won’t make me do it. Calling it a test of friendship/good will/common sense won’t make me do it. It’s cheap manipulation and I just tune out.

    • http://prinsenhouse.blogspot.ca/ Jeannie

      I so agree with the cheap manipulation bit. When I was younger, way back in the day, they had chain letters: send a tea towel to the person at the top of the list, then send the letter to ten friends, and you should receive 24 tea towels!! I stopped obediently responding to chain letters when I realized I NEVER received even ONE tea towel/recipe/pair of underwear. So when I read these “please share if you love Jesus/care about our planet/are a decent human being” posts or emails, I think about the old chain-letter scam and just ignore them. I really wouldn’t have minded getting a tea towel or two, though…

      • Erik

        You received chain letters that asked for UNDERWEAR?! That’s amazing and hilarious.

  • http://timfall.wordpress.com/ Tim

    I wish I had something witty to add, Rachel, but I got nothing. Really like what you and the commenters have come up with, though! I’ve violated some of these myself, and will probably continue to do so in the future. Oh well!

  • dad

    Check your email. I just made something you might be able to use…

  • Pat Pope

    Bad grammar and poor sentence structure and spelling. Some of it is so bad, I’ve actually stopped reading posts because that’s how unintelligible they are and it becomes more like deciphering than reading.

  • http://bluefrogsandtoast.wordpress.com krē-āt

    These are great! (and a big reason why I disabled my Facebook account last week for a brief break). Number 5 and 6 really hits the nail on the head for me. And I think you could add “let me post photo after photo of myself so you can all see how beautiful and thin I am. I really love me” (gag). And I’d love to add to the “complainers” those who complain about their kids. That is so sad to me.

    • Adriana

      What’s even worse than “let me post photo after photo of myself so you can all see how beautiful and thin I am. I really love me” is when they ACTUALLY “like” their own status update! Facebook really is very amusing sometimes. :)

  • Lulu

    Great things here, but one I found quite sad, was a person who regularly posted about how ‘you are all so lucky, you are still my friends, you survived the cull of all the boring people.’. Of course I got culled eventually, obviously far too boring, didn’t mind really, but such a nasty way of conducting things, and disappointing from a Christian sister.


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