Just because some of you were late to the modern tech social media thingie, doesn’t mean you can’t go pro. Here are the basic rules to follow as you head open-armed into the social network of the world:
1.) DO ASSUME YOUR MOM IS READING IT
Yes, I know your mom is 72 years old but imagine if she knew where the power button was on your hand-me-down laptop and read that you had a graduate degree from an Ivy League school when, in fact, you barely finished college in a drunk stupor? Don’t lie about your credentials. Not only will your Mom be disappointed but it’s the internet, people — it’s crazy easy to cross-reference data. Don’t swear (unnecessarily). Don’t post anything naked about anyone (including yourself, your husband, your cute babies in the bathtub, your highschool ex-boyfriend who you’re still bitter over, your neighbor, your favorite celebrity or your pet). Don’t gossip (excessively). Do use proper punctuation and upper-case letters to start sentences. Don’t make fun of your Mom or else she won’t come out to babysit the kids the next time you and your husband want to go to Palm Springs for the weekend.
2.) DON’T POST PHOTOS FROM MOMS’ WEEKEND IN VEGAS
I know, occasionally we all have a photo where we think, “Oh my god, I look so amazing. Hot and sexy and tan and thin and my hair, wow, I ‘m hotter now than I was at 19. Eat your heart out, Bobby Lipkinsky, I still got it.” But you can’t post it because either a.) you don’t look sexy as much as “slutty” and no one wants to see you looking like that, especially not your Mom or your kids or b.) you do look that hot and sexy and thin and no one, not even your best friend, will think kind thoughts about it. Instead, they’ll think “wow, it’s so obvious you posted that photo ’cause you look so great and it’s not what you look like most days so why even post it other than to rub my nose in how great your hair looks and that’s so not nice… blah, blah, blah”
3.) DO ASSUME YOUR KIDS WILL READ EVERYTHING YOU POST
Even if they can’t read right now, whatever you say on the ‘net, stays on the ‘net. It’s like Vegas with video-cameras. That means, it’ll be there forever. So, when they turn 16 and figure out how to disable the nanny filter function on Google, they’re going to type in your name (right after they type in “boobs” & “penis”). So, if you thought your credibility was compromised the day they said, “But Mom, that’s not what you said about Dad on the phone to Grandma” or “But Mom, that’s not the way the teacher told us to add mixed fractions” just wait until they read one of your typo-riddled rants about some gossipy thing you had no good reason on which to be commenting, especially if it involves a celebrity or your neighbor or the new hot Science teacher at your kids’ school. Which brings me to number 4…
4.) DON’T DRINK AND TYPE
You’re thinking, “Duh, Deb, I’d never do that” but trust me, you’ll do it once ’cause you think you can handle your liquor better than most and then, about twenty minutes later, you’ll wish you hadn’t but it’ll be too late to unsend and then, you’ll come to me crying, “You were right” and I’ll find no pleasure in your pain but I will nod knowingly. When you drink, your mind turns into your own personal frenemy (who likes you but likes to see you fail even more). When you drink, you think that pun makes sense, you think your “I’m-just-writing-because-I-like-electrons-as-much-as-my-son” email to the new hot Science teacher is subtly sexy rather than creepy and desperate, and your short angry email response about volunteering to work at this year’s Cupcake Fundraiser does not belie your secret jealousy towards that Mom who not only owns a cookie-company that was just profiled on Oprah.com but has perfectly coiffed hair, two high-performing well-behaved teenagers and genuinely is liked more by the Administration than you. If you’ve had more than one drink and you find yourself saying, “Oh, I’m just checking my email..,” arrest yourself. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did in the morning.
5.) DO THINK LIKE A VIRAL SHERLOCK-HOLMES
Okay, that heading doesn’t make sense but here’s the story behind it. There’s this mom who posted an article in her major New York-based newspaper blog about her son’s friends who smoked way too much pot but mind you, she didn’t post their names ’cause she didn’t want to rat them out to their parents even though her blog byline has her whole name in it and she mentions her son by name. Hmmm. Shocker, the website “Gawker” picks up the story and outs everyone. When you write something secret, please know that it isn’t secret. I mean, seriously. Secret means keep your mouth shut. Secret is gossiping in person so you can later deny that you said anything about anything to anyone. If you want to share a secret online about your neighbor (or your husband or your kids or your favorite celebrity or your beloved Mom), be prepared for that cold-shoulder in the carpool lane when your secret to goes viral.
6.) DON’T POST ABOUT YOUR CUTICLES
That’s code for no one cares about the mundane habits about your human life. I get it. We all love our kids, we all wish we could sleep in longer in the morning, we all have smelly feet at the end of the day. I don’t need to read another post about it. Seriously, the internet is about ‘upping your game. It’s your chance to show the world what you could really be if you weren’t constrained by your geography, age, gender or resume. Cream rises to the top, baby. Consider what you post before you post it. If your mother is going to be bored by it, don’t write it. You can try to be amusing (which is my schtick) or smart (which is a good thing if you have a PhD) or inspirational (ah, Oprah) — whatever you choose to do, whatever you like to do… do it with gumption and originality and passion. And use spell-check.
7.) DO TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTOS INSTEAD OF COPYING-&-PASTING PROFESSIONAL ONES
Even if the photo of your own “wagging finger” doesn’t make sense at first (or ever…) and sure, it’s not nearly as good as the one you found on Google Images ’cause your pointer finger is weirdly long, but that’s the one you should use. Otherwise, it’s stealing. Copyright rules are real (and photographers have feelings which do get hurt and then, they hire lawyers) so even though you didn’t bother reading any of the legal mumble-jumble on the new Google privacy rules, you should at least know not to steal someone else’s photos. Remember what happened to those kids who got fined because they used Napster when it first came out? The courts threw out their “I didn’t know and everyone else was doing it” defense. I’m just saying, you don’t want to be the one “they made an example of.” Oh wait. That means I should pull down that photo of Madonna and the rat. Hmmm. Those are going to be trickier than the finger to do with my iphone.