Social media has transformed the world as we know it. It keeps us connected to friends and family and brings humor into our lives when we need it most. But like anything, there can be a dark side to social media — and it is often misused by people, wittingly or unwittingly.
This month, ten Harvard students lost their admission to the respected school because of offensive memes they were posting on a group chat page. While most of us might not go that far, there are things we should beware of posting on social media. The wrong meme or tweet could cost us important relationships or tarnish our reputations.
What are five common mistakes people make on social media that can hurt their relationships with others?
1. Airing your dirty laundry for others to see
If you're having problems with your partner, be respectful and discuss them directly with your partner! If you're venting on social media, it makes things awkward for your friends and gives people lots to gossip about.
2. Posting anything negative
People make judgments quickly on social media. I recently saw someone post the following, "Angry AF today." If you're single and people get the feeling you're negative or a Debbie Downer, they're going to think twice before setting you up with their friends.
3. Vaguebooking — posting something borderline hostile that is pointed at one person
For example, "I wish that if someone had something that they wanted me to know, they would tell me to my face instead of behind my back." This makes you look petty and passive-aggressive.
4. Posting private or negative things about your kids
In other words, "too much information" that would embarrass them. I see some parents using Facebook as a zone to talk ALL about their kids (good, bad or intimate), with details their kids probably wouldn't want shared.
Always ask your child if they mind you posting something or a particular photo. Even at their young ages, they will have strong opinions. Respect your kids' privacy and wishes, and you'll preserve their trust for years to come.
5. Tagging your friends in old photos
I hear people complain about this all of the time. They don't want old high school photos tagged and showing up in people's news feeds. It's embarrassing to some people and they'd rather leave those memories in the yearbook. If you feel the need to post an old photo, ask people's permission before you tag them.
6. Arguing on Facebook
In today's super-charged political environment, people feel entitled to rant and tear others down in social media posts. It's easy to go back and forth with comments, while the hostility builds rapidly. You are NOT going to change someone's mind by arguing your point. The collateral damage is that you will look like "that" person who is ... Crazy.
7. Posting photos you'd be embarrassed if your boss or family saw
In today's world, you are one screen shot away from going viral (and even losing your job). Keep your social media posts "social" — and keep your photos appropriate. If you wouldn't want your mom or boss to see the photos, the world doesn't need to see them either.
Your personal brand is affected by your social media posts, even if the people know you well. Use it to connect with people, be positive and share inspiration. Do not use it for dark, negative or downright crazy posts. Follow these rules, and you should keep your relationships on the up and up, and your reputation crisp and clean!
Dating coach Bela Gandhi is the founder and president of Smart Dating Academy.