MY RULES OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Inspired by recently thinking back on @LeahG's My Rules Of List wave: MY RULES OF LIST
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    Note: I don't want to give the impression that I think about these things day to day while I'm on social media. As you'll see with some of them, it would be really exhausting & calculating to think about them consciously every single day. Most of these are things I had to sit & actually ponder for this list.
    Also, I guess most of them are really beliefs, not rules. But hey, people look at words subjectively. Which is a good segue to #1...
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    1. It's all subjective (and relative).
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    Every person has a unique perspective. You think everyone hates you, when really no one hates you. You think one of your posts was a failure, when someone else views it as a success & views you as popular. You think a certain trend or meme or app is sheer lunacy, but it totally clicks for others. Life is subjective, so social media is subjective.
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    2. One person's ground zero is another person's escape.
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    Some people come to social media to stay informed, spread the word about causes, & scream into the void. Others confront the matters of the world elsewhere & come here for solace. Just because Twitter is #resist ground zero for you doesn't mean it is for someone else. A person who isn't retweeting news items may still be calling their senators.
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    Remember that before you judge a person on their latest retweets. I try not to make a judgment about a person's priorities until I've talked to them one on one and not just let their social media presence inform whether or not I think they have their head in the sand or the clouds.
    But since this point risks minimizing the role of social media in our lives, I should hurry up and get to my strongest, most important belief on this list...
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    3. At this point, giving people advice to "not take social media seriously" means denying reality.
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    Maybe in the MySpace days or the early years of Facebook, "it's just social media" was an acceptable reassurance for someone who was feeling hurt or bothered by something that took place on social media. But once Facebook became a place for our parents & even grandparents, once Twitter & IG & Snapchat took over, things changed.
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    It is perfectly reasonable & normal to feel slighted when you're unfollowed or not followed back, to feel sad or pissed when a post seems to go ignored, to feel violated & even lastingly scarred by an online confrontation, to feel exhausted by a tone or dynamic or trend.
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    Why? Because we spend as much time dedicated to social media as we do with institutions/situations where we would never judge people for feeling any of those things. If someone felt slighted by a workplace encounter, or unloved in a marriage, or ignored by their family, no one would say, "It's only your job/marriage/family."
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    Lots of us spend hours and hours of our day on social media, as much time - often more - than we spend being students, employees, partners, parents, ELECTED OFFICIALS DONALD. Sorry, but the ship of MySpace days has sailed - social media is a very big deal. And feeling ANY way as a result of participating in it is valid, normal, & worthy of empathy.
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    Now, some may say that spending lots of time on social media doesn't have to equate with taking it seriously, and it's still important to take it with a grain of salt, to view it not as real life. But in my opinion, a person's time is their most valuable thing to give. The giving of it is serious, & makes whatever they give it to also serious.
    So I stand by it.
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    4. A public social media profile is still a person's private space, and can be invaded just as one's physical space can be invaded.
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    Sometimes tone policing feels righteous & valid, other times it feels like this. When tone policers argue, "If you didn't wanna get criticized, you should've made your profile private," I think that's as bad a rationalization of nasty behavior as saying to a person on the street, "If u didn't wanna be harassed, u shouldn't have dressed that way."
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    If you correct or criticize someone, or boomerang your view in their direction, hopefully you have the legal/scientific basis or at least collective majority moral ground to do so. But if you don't, and they feel assaulted by your invasion of their space, you don't get to say, "Make your profile private if you're gonna be the way you are."
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    5. I don't follow back for everyone who follows me, but I also won't continue following people if they don't follow me back.
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    🤷🏻‍♂️ My greatest hypocrisy. I make exceptions for a few verified accounts on Twitter - social justice groups and fun self care-type accounts like Cookie Monster and Peanuts. And I have a few more specific rules related to follows, likes, etc...
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    6. Using a follower tracking app to find out who has unfollowed you? 🆗 Searching hashtags or otherwise creeping to find & follow strangers with similar interests? 🆗 Using a bot to blow up your # of followers so that your account has the illusion of looking popular? Lame.
    Not only lame, but it doesn't really accomplish anything. Most of those accounts you auto-follow and then auto-unfollow will never like your posts or interact in any way. Maybe down the road it'll get you an extra gig or two, depending on your line of work. But it's mostly a waste.
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    7. Pro-hashtagging to blow up likes on Instagram, though.
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    But that also works against you, because it will make some of your friends (whichever ones get most easily frustrated by thirsty behavior on social media) withhold likes because they feel you've had enough, or they find it insufferable, or both.
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    8. People do withhold likes.
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    People are always on a sliding scale of admiration -> resentment with people they follow on social media. It's just humans being humans.
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    And it is certainly a thing to withhold a like, or not follow back, or manually stop someone's IG story when it's over cuz the next one is from someone you don't like right now (L O L) because you are currently further down the resentment end of the scale w/ that person for whatever reason.
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    Pettiness runs rampant online. We've all been petty. We all know it. And periodically, when I catch myself in that mode, I reassess my online connections based on this next rule (second most important on this list!)...
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    9. The High Fidelity Rule: What you like matters.
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    If a person never likes your posts on social media, that person is not your friend. If you AND another person both never like each other's posts on social media, you are not friends. I won't go so far as to say it means you don't like someone or someone doesn't like you, but it would certainly be silly to think of them as being your friend.
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    In an earlier list*, I made an observation that I feel sometimes people like against their actual interests/aesthetic/values because of their fondness for a certain person. The more you like someone's stuff, the more fond of them you are. If you never like their stuff...well...again I won't say it...but...
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    There could really be a rule that umbrellas most of these: Just use your head, it's not complicated. Someone follows you but never likes anything you post? They either have you muted (not a great sign of a burgeoning friendship) or they see your stuff in their feed everyday & willfully choose to go by it without liking (same - not a great sign).
    But don't forget this next thing...
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    10. People don't have to like each other and not everyone will like you.
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    Toughest one for me to remember, OBVIOUSLY. Sometimes, They're Just Not That Into You™ and that's ok.
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    11. If someone says they missed that you followed them or missed something you posted, that's...eh...maybe not the truth.
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    I can't say probably not the truth, because that's too cynical. But I think much of the time, it's a line. Again, harkening back to #3, people spend a TON of time on social media. And we've all gotten to be very good at creeping over even the tiniest little details and nuances of exchanges and posts online.
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    Most people see it all, including and especially their own notifications, and if they say they don't, they're...eh...maybe lying. One place they're DEF lying: if you follow someone on IG & they say they didn't know, that's 100% a lie. You can see clear as day in your IG notifs whether you're following someone who just followed you.
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    Again, just use your head. They might just Not Be That Into You™. Because the people who ARE that into you? They will let you know.
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    One place I can say for me this doesn't apply - here. If I say I missed something on List, I missed it. I don't really look at the feed anymore, and I don't have post notifications on for anybody. 😬
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    12. Why be online friends if #9 is a thing for you and someone else?
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    This is a difficult one to approach myself and I'd never encourage others to apply it, but periodically in my life I've remembered that earlier rule and taken stock of who I have connections with on various social media.
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    And if I can bring myself to do it without feeling it'll stir too much drama, I'll go and unfollow people where it applies that they never like my stuff and I never like theirs. If we never interact, unfollow.
    (Or if we only interact in this way, which is my #1 Internet pet peeve: when someone you NEVER otherwise hear from jumps out from behind a bush to criticize you when you say something they don't like)
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    I started doing another round of this in the past two weeks, whenever I felt up for thinking about it for a minute. It's stressful! But why should it be? If I don't like your things, and you don't like mine, we. are. not. friends. So why continue the silly business of following each other? What's the point? A high follower count?
    Not worth the falsity of it. Not to me, anyway...when I can bring myself to stand by the view, that is. 🙃
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    13. Some delete, some keep.
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    We shouldn't judge people for being either type. I have deleted one FB account (2007-14), one Twitter account (2009-10), many IG accounts (2012-14, then a few more in 2014, then one last summer), one Snapchat (2016), and yes of course two List accounts! (though I felt pressured by hostility to delete those so it's not the same)
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    I also sometimes delete IG posts or old tweets too. I am a deleter. The accounts come and go, and I haven't felt protective of most of them over the years. But some people feel deleting is weak - I disagree, but you live ya truth. Deleters and keepers are both normal.
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    14. I'm way more generous with likes than comments.
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    Comments are wonderful and I make an effort to leave them when I really care or when I've sent out a list request here, but my resting pulse about comments is they feel like a chore and also sometimes I feel they hurt the vibe of an IG post so I won't comment often on other people's stuff there.
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    15. The internet can always use more photos of Tippi Hedren.
    My current mission
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    16. Don't be an asshole.
    Duh
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    17. You can have it all!
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    We have so much freedom to be whatever and whomever we want on social media. As much time as we spend here, I just hope for us all to feel free to be everything we want to be and do everything we want to do. As long as it's not hurting others.
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    So even if you've been reminded before, let me yet again encourage you to BE YOURSELF on your profiles - to not worry how others will perceive you (because it's all impossibly subjective anyway, and because not everyone will like you) and simply construct your online life however you please. YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL!
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    Welcome to the internet!
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    Whoops sorry this was so long!
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    18. Thought of an important one to add: You never know what someone else is dealing with. Any of the above "rules" may not apply to someone even if you're noticing behavior I described. Maybe someone's just going through something, and keeping it to themselves, and it seems like they're being aloof or a jerk but they're just dealing with something.
    Nobody really knows what someone else is dealing with entirely. So go easy before you go hard on the assumptions. 💜