Social Networking: A Few Tips for the New Year

The new year is a good time to reflect on our past and choose to make life changes. Social networking has become a huge part of people’s lives and perhaps now is a good time to think about our online presence and suggest a few changes. Read this as helpful pastoral advice or as my personal pet peeves. Feel free to change them into your New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. That news story, internet tip, food contamination scare, new gang initiation, IS NOT TRUE!!! (Yes, I meant to shout; see point 6 below). Make your new friend and research before you post.
  2. Do you know what “satire” is? Don’t share your outrage over what you read at
  3. When you share a photo from someone else’s page or profile, note that you are also sharing the caption. I’m not sure you really meant to say that. Look before you share.
  4. The stats, quotes and “facts” on your meme may support your political position, but not when they are grossly exaggerated, taken out of context, or completely fabricated. Check to see that what you are presenting is true before you share it.
  5. The meme you just shared is really funny! – It’s also from a page named “&*%!#$es of the world unite.” Is that the really the message you want to send to your grandma?
  6. People don’t like being shouted at in real life, so don’t shout at them online. Don’t use ALL CAPS unless you mean to shout, which should be rare; make that never (sorry about point #1 – I apologize for shouting at you).
  7. People don’t like being nitpicked in real life, so don’t do it publicly on line. If you has to really be the grammar police, at least have the curtesy to not to do it on my wall. Send corrections in a private message or bite you’re tung. I will prolly still be annoyed, but at least I’m not being made fun of in public.
  8. You took English in high school right? You don’t have to follow all the punctuation rules, but have a heart for the rest of us and at least speak intelligibly.
  9. TMI (too much information), I really did not need to know that (or worse, see it)!
  10. Not enough information. I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. A little context, please?
  11. People are much more bold, rude, crass, etc. online than they would be in public. I’ve got news for you: your FB posts are in public for all to see! If you would not say it in person, don’t say it online (and never post when angry).
  12. In a discussion or debate, your words may sound more angry, annoyed, assertive or rude than you intend. Choose your words carefully.
  13. People often sound more angry, annoyed, assertive, or rude online than they really intend. Don’t assume emotion; take words at face value.
  14. Do not try to resolve conflicts by text, instant message, or comment stream. I know you don’t want to, but talk to the person face to face or at least pick up the phone.
  15. Talk-to-text technology is great, but be careful when you use it. You never know what your phone might do. Check before you send.
  16. Your constant corrections of talk-to-text mistakes are annoying and wearying. Unless I can’t figure out what you meant to say, just leave the mistake uncorrected, please.
  17. Angry cryptic posts are not as cryptic as you think. I know you’re talking about me, and even if you’re not, you are. Just don’t.
  18. I have 855 friends and I don’t live on FB. Please don’t assume I saw the last sentence of your three paragraph post from six months ago. If it’s that important that I know, personal messages are still best.
  19. I hate group messages. Unless it’s truly a group conversation, please message me individually or count me out.
  20. I’m glad you are having a party this Saturday and I’d love to come. But please don’t make me “decline” your invitation when I live 1600 miles away.
  21. I don’t need a play-by-play of the big game in my news feed. I’m watching it too (or else I’m not interested). One or two posts will do, thank you.
  22. Admit it, you clicked on that video because the picture was a girl in a bikini. You got suckered into watching the clip and now everyone knows it because it posted your status for you.
  23. I friended you because you’re my friend, not because I want to buy products from you or join your multi-level marketing scheme. Please don’t post constant advertisements as your status and don’t hijack my page by posting ads on my wall.
  24. I’m pretty self-conscious about how I look in pictures and I don’t want my bad hair day or embarrassing moment frozen in time for all to see. Please ask permission before you post pictures of someone else.
  25. I have absolutely no interest in playing the latest FB game. Please stop inviting me to play.
  26. I’m not against selfies, but there’s a fine line between playfulness and narcissism. Every once in a while, post a picture of something else, please.
  27. I don’t need another picture of Gene Wilder on my wall. Thanks anyway. :)
  28. Do you really need an emoticon on every post? :):):):) – Sometimes words are enough. 😛
  29. I took time out of my schedule to spend some personal quality time with you, not watch you check your twitter feed. It’s ok to put the phone away sometimes (you won’t die, I promise).
  30. I’m sitting right next to you, son. Really?!?
  31. Don’t forget that you friended your mom and your pastor. Just sayin’.
  32. It’s a beautiful day – log off and enjoy it!

These are just a few of my ideas. Feel free to share your own social networking advice in the comments below. I may just turn them into a few New Year’s Resolutions of my own!


  1. says

    You Say You Don’t Want Any More Gene Wilder Posts?

    Tell Me How Much That Annoys You.

    I regret that you posted this. I derive so much of my amusement on social media from watching people break most/all of these rules.

  2. says

    You Say You Don’t Want Any More Gene Wilder Posts?

    Tell Me How Much That Annoys You.

    I regret that you posted this. I derive so much of my amusement on social media from watching people break most/all of these rules.

  3. Christiane says

    some thoughts . . .

    it’s much more fun if you don’t use grammatical rules when you blog . . . you don’t think in correct grammar, do you?
    you don’t talk in correct grammar, do you?
    hardly . . .

    never friend close relatives who know each other . . . this will get too interesting if you do it

    go ahead and use ALL CAPS whenever you feel like it . . . then get ready for incoming

    never post anything that will give Grandma a heart attack

    remember, what you write will come back to haunt you . . . srsly . . . I know of cases where people’s comments showed up as quotes on their tombstones

    now go and have fun :)

  4. says

    On #1: Amen, preach it, brother! I’m not reticent to post a link to the appropriate Snopes page in the comments for people who fail at this.

    On #7: I reserve the right to play “What would that typo mean if it were a real word?’ when appropriate. I’m still pointing out that you made a typo,
    but hopefully in a much more amusing way.

    On #25: Most FB games involve interaction with FB friends in some way. Some of those games make it easy to only involve those who are already playing the game. Some don’t (and some game-makers are inconsistent. Candy Crush Saga falls into the second category. Other ‘X Saga’ games by the same game-maker fall into the first category.). In the latter case, I have to try to remember who I’ve actually seen playing the game. Human memory being what it is, sometimes I fail.

    • Todd Benkert says

      I’ll give you grace on 8, 12, and 15. For the rest, the inner pharisee in me is all about law.

  5. says

    I used to use snopes a lot, and still do on occasion, but I found recently that they don’t always check their facts, only the ones they want to disprove. There are a few conservative versions of snopes out there, but they aren’t as extensive as snopes, and are often biased the other way.

    • Todd Benkert says

      Snopes is not reliable for political issues but is quite handy for urban legends — ( a tooth left in a glass of Coca-Cola will not dissolve overnight nor are gang members targeting women and children at Walmart).

  6. Bart Barber says

    The future of Western Civilization pretty much depends upon my correction of people’s bad grammar on the Internet.

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing your tips. One I would add: there is really no need to wish your spouse happy anniversary on Facebook (or birthday for that matter) at all. It just seems artificial. Instead, she would probably appreciate a social media “fast” for the day in order to spend quality time together.

  8. Rick Patrick says

    Most SBC Voices readers would be proud of me for actually quoting Piper in my sermon this morning—a very rare occurrence:

    “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” —John Piper

  9. Dave Miller says

    I learned of a horror greater than emoticons called emojis or something like that. The end is near.