Social media platforms can be a great way to communicate with your friends and family. It can help businesses and artists share their news, products, and services with the world. It can be a happy, colorful place if you let it. But you can also go down a darker path of arguments, fake news, and bullying. Be mindful of what you post, and how you consume information. Here are my tips for how to be elegant on social media.

  • Post a well-lit clear profile picture of yourself without a lot of background distractions. Think of your personal brand. How do you want to present yourself? Don’t hide behind too many photo filters. Own who you are. Likewise, be sure your profile picture is you alone, not you with your spouse, not a picture of your kids or grandkids. Be yourself.
  • Set time limits. You can’t spend all day on social media and not participate in real life. Social media has been known to contribute to anxiety because everyone else’s life looks so rosy. It can be fun to browse Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, but limit your time.
  • Don’t overshare. Keep an air of mystery. You wouldn’t go about telling everyone on the street all of your personal business. You should act the same way on social platforms.
  • Don’t post vague comments looking for attention like I can’t believe I fell for it again. You’re obviously looking for someone to ask you what happened. If you want to share something, share it. But don’t beg for attention.
  • Avoid arguments and passive-aggressive posts. If you have a problem with someone tell them directly. Passive-aggressive behavior is immature. Talk it out in person, not on social media for all the world to see.
  • Ask permission before you post pictures of other people. And don’t tag people in group photos without asking permission. Be mindful of posting pictures from the old days that may embarrass someone. We each have our own personal brand, and we change and grow over time. Old party pictures from your college days are not appropriate.
  • Be mindful of your privacy and that of your children. You have to be careful of predators hiding behind innocent-looking profiles. Only accept friend requests from people you actually know.
  • Let people make their own announcements. Let them tell the world about their pregnancy or promotion. Let people break their own news. You might think you’re being nice by posting comments like, I want to congratulate my friend Missy on her pregnancy. You’re going to be a great mom. But maybe Missy wasn’t ready to announce it to the world yet.
  • Don’t be a troll. And don’t interact with trolls. Block them without responding. Don’t get caught up in the drama.
  • Check your facts. This is a huge problem on social media. You need to learn to recognize fake news. It is very easy to be manipulated on social media. You see a political post, you immediately feel outrage, and have to share it for everyone to see. But where did that post come from? Likely it came from a Russian bot. It’s the new terrorism: cyber warfare. That’s how insurrections happen, based on a lie that you could unwittingly be helping to share.
  • Don’t post things that are like the old-fashioned chain letters. If you share this with 10 people, you’ll find money, or not die, or whatever. Or the reverse, only my true friends will share this post about dementia, or cancer, or bullying. You are bullying by posting things like that.
  • Beware of quizzes that seem fun but are really phishing for information. What is your elf name? They ask for your birth month, birth date, first and last initial. You’re giving people data they can use to steal your identity. Do you really need to share with the world that your elf name is Pinky McSparkle Wings. Take the quiz in your head if you think it’s fun, but don’t post your responses — for your own safety.
  • Do I even need to write this one? Keep your nipples and your butt to yourself. Instagram is splattered with pictures of insecure women posting half-naked PhotoShopped pictures of themselves. It’s sad, really. What would your grandmother think?

Some of these items may seem silly — that last one I am joking about, sort of — but they happen every day. To ensure you have an elegant experience on social media, be mindful of what you post, and how you react to other people’s posts. Limit your time, so that your whole day doesn’t revolve around your phone. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t say in person. Behave how you would in real life. These are my tips for how to be elegant on social media. Do you have any to add to this list?

Click here to read the entire Elegance Series.