An Etiquette Guide for Surviving Social Media

A LighterSide guide to avoid being flamed, flogged, blocked, persecuted or ghosted online

An Etiquette Guide for Surviving Social Media

Ever wondered why you don’t have any followers? Why does everyone else seem to be able to make wildly successful comments that are reposted, liked, retweeted and pinned whilst yours languish in your timeline, dying a slow and painful dusty death? Wonder no longer. Follow these simple steps to ensure you don’t turn into a digital pariah.

A few things to keep in mind before we get going. Your online life is not real. It’s the life you’ve always wanted, but couldn’t afford. The only limits are your imagination. You can create an avatar existence to happily occupy your day and no one will be any the wiser.

To make things simpler I’ve broken the advice into topics. Let’s start with your opening gambit.

Your Profile

This is your first impression. Make it count. The digital world is a place where ‘beauty’ is valued. If you’re not particularly attractive, try downloading one of the Photo Filter apps. These wonderful additions to your smartphone camera can turn a car crash into a Rembrandt, just snap away and filter, then upload. You can always play the sad card and go with an actual photo, but I’d recommend the filters.

Try not to share all your personal information on your profile unless of course, you enjoy your bank account being sucked dry, your email used to send out porn links and waking up one morning to images and videos of naked men fornicating on your Facebook timeline accompanied by comments like

‘Gee Mildred, we never knew”.

Make up stuff that you’ve always dreamt of and use this instead. NASA will not wake you up at 2 am with a call if you use the words Nuclear and Fusion together in your job title. You’re safe. Lie about your age, your height, and your weight. You’re online now, have a little fun. If you think you’re perfect just the way you are, then you’ve definitely come to the right place.

Photos and Videos

Remember that whatever you put online is there forever. A topless shot with your friends after two bottles of Jack probably isn’t a good idea. Once the image goes online, it’s there for good. You may be able to delete the original, but your ex, your classmates, your colleagues, and 3 million horny teenagers have already saved your breasts to a hard drive somewhere.

The damage is done and your perky lady lumps will surface again when you least expect them, sometimes years after, as an unpleasant reminder of the effects of gravity and hindsight. Ask a certain US politician who shall remain nameless.

The moral is, be careful. Try to keep your images on closed groups and turn on privacy settings. Platforms like Facebook will give you a certain amount of control over this, Twitter is an open platform. Post an image there and it’s in the public domain for all to see.


So it’s the internet, anything goes, right? Freedom of speech and opinion and expression, all that sort of stuff, right?Wrong. Horribly wrong. You can only post anything if you belong to a small, somehow disenfranchised group of people. They may or may not actually be disenfranchised. That’s not the point. They, and the world at large perceive them to be so and that’s all that matters.

These groups have a ‘carte blanche’ to post almost anything. You, on the other hand, need to proceed with caution. If you incur the wrath of any of these groups you will find yourself banned, unfollowed and your accounts closed. Everywhere. Even your local delicatessen will refuse to serve you. The internet runs deep.

Stay away from race, sexual identity or non-identity, gender issues, and religion. Other topics will also incur wrath from dissenters but to a lesser degree. These include politics, science, business, spirituality, and wellbeing. That leaves you with gardening, sewing, agricultural shows and dogs and cats. Knock yourself out.


This is the one area that is fraught with danger. It’s so important that I’ve included a numbered list below of things to avoid commenting on, ever. If you want to be safe, don’t deviate from this list.

1. Profile photos

Never ever say anything. Click the like button if you must but don’t comment. Especially not if the person has asked a question about their profile photo. That is a trap, don’t go there. No matter what you say, they will warp, twist and distort your best intentions to suit their evil purpose. Their other friends are waiting for the first idiot to make a comment and will then join in on the attack, whilst thanking their lucky stars they didn’t say exactly the same thing. The villagers have pitchforks and you’ve just been outed as the witch. The more followers someone has the more dangerous you should consider them to be. They’re old hands at this. Stay silent.

2. The Bitch

This can be either a man or woman and this is the person who responds to one of your posts with an unpleasant comment, often ending in comments about genitalia, self-pleasuring and the consumption of unpleasant body byproducts. If you’ve been posting about the topics I referenced in posting, then you’ve shot yourself in the foot. The best way to proceed is to delete the post and ban the person who commented. This serves a dual purpose.

By acting first, you maintain the high ground. Removing the post removes the temptation to respond in kind. This is an absolute no-no. Never respond. Not a word. Responding will ruin your day, elevate your blood pressure to new heights and spur you to look for a convenient rafter and a piece of rope. Delete, ban or block and move on. Have a coffee and formulate your next offensive post. You’ve just saved yourself a load of stress and aggravation. The digital world is full of idiots, luckily you can choose who you get to hang out with.

3. The Sad Sack

You’ve seen the posts. Life has no meaning. Their inability to cope with some minor task of the day has rendered their very existence unbearable. Resist the temptation to offer advice. Again feel free to click on the like button to show you’re not a heartless bastard and move on. No advice. Ever. I find the little prayer hands emoji very useful for this situation. It shows you care, even if you don’t.

4. One Upmanship

There will always be someone that is sadder than you and they will feel the need to comment with their story of misery right below yours. Resist the urge to respond. They’ve beaten you. Just accept it and wait for them to post in a few days. That’s the time for payback.

If you respond straight away people will see you as being harsh and uncaring. Your dog may just have died but the other person lost four pets at once in a freak meteor strike. Like I said, they win.

The Digital Mood

No one likes a happy camper online. People who are continuously happy are downers that no one else can identify with. You need to show your flawed personality if you want to connect online. Seeing someone worse off than themselves makes people happy and makes their lot seem that little bit more bearable. You’ve cheered them up. They’re not sure why, but you have. So they follow you, hoping that your misery is not a once-off. You’re allowed brief moments of positive thoughts and happiness but don’t overdo it.

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful and that you can now engage with your audience in a more forthright and convincing manner. In Wonderland, sincerity is everything so lay it on thick and you’ll soon be covered in followers. Celebrate when you hit a thousand by changing your profile photo and asking for comments. You’re the boss now.

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Robert Turner
Robert Turner
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Robert Turner

Published author and Founder of Cre8tive Media. Outspoken advocate for a better internet. Follow me on Twitter @robturnerwrites

See all posts by Robert Turner