David Spark is a tech journalist and former stand-up comic.
Through a series of societal norms played out in social channels, our fellow social engagers’ behavior forces us to be complicit in a cycle of non-desirable online engagement. Here’s how:
1: Recognize my lifecycle event DAMNIT!
I know your new baby, wedding, job, or anniversary is really important to you. It’s not as important to us. Regardless, like a group of lemmings we hit “Like” and type “beautiful,” even when the baby looks exactly like every other newborn. Fifty “congratulations” and “Mazel Tovs” in a comment stream does not make a conversation. Please, I beg of you, don’t make me “Like” your positive home pregnancy test photo.
2: Being guilted into “Liking” your friend’s business page
Am I really “invited” to “Like” a friend’s business page, or is this some sort of “Like or Else” veiled threat?
3: Staying on a friend’s mailing list you find really annoying
It would make my life so much easier if I just unsubscribed. But then you’ll see it and ask me why I unsubscribed. Or you won’t say anything, but I’ll know that you’ll know, and we’ll be locked into a passive aggressive Mexican standoff. I guess I’ll just delete these mass-mailed messages for the rest of my life.
4: Typing “Happy Birthday” on a friend’s Facebook wall
Every single day, thousands of people on Facebook have a birthday. Many of them are your friends. Must I type “Happy Birthday” for all of them? It goes on every…single…day. It never ends. If you ever wanted to know what’s the “least you could do” for someone’s birthday, now you know.
5: Getting stressed out when we don’t accept friend requests
I have a huge repository of people who have friended me on Facebook and LinkedIn. If I don’t immediately select the “ignore” option they keep staring at me like big-eyed children in a Keane painting. They just want to be my friend. What kind of monster am I?
6: “Liking” a death announcement/anniversary
When family members and friends die people will sometimes not respond because they “don’t know what to say.” Well I’m sure hitting the “Like” button wasn’t even a consideration. Unfortunately, it’s now one of the most popular options.
These posts often take the form of images with political statements or “Like if you agree” pleas on universally accepted/saccharine beliefs on kids, pets, veterans, teachers, and parents. These posts belong on a pillow or above a CEO’s desk.
8: Sharing company news through personal social channels
Your employer strongly encourages you to share or “Like” annoying company posts. Not doing so indicates you’re “not being a team player” and that will definitely come up in your quarterly review. If you’re working at a financial institution, you can’t even qualify the reason for your posting to your friends — because any additional “commenting” would require regulatory oversight.
9: In-person friending
You meet someone at an event and they ask for your Twitter handle. They pull out their phone, tweet that they’re hanging out with you, and then follow you. It’s kind of assumed you’ll follow them back, right now. You’ll have to come up with a better excuse than “My Twitter app doesn’t allow me to follow anyone back.”
10: Maintaining active business accounts with every single social media service
If you just started a business you have to set up an account with YouTube, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace, Pinterest, and 12 other social media services Mashable will write about next week. Once you’ve signed up for all of them, make sure you post something across all these services at least three times a week. That’s what I advise. I know. I’m a social media consultant.
David Spark (@dspark) is a former standup comic and writer for The Second City in Chicago. Today, Spark works as a tech journalist and owner of the brand journalism firm Spark Media Solutions (on Facebook). He also blogs at the Spark Minute.