When it comes to Facebook, Twitter and the rest, guys (or anyone, really) should be as conscious as they are in the terrestrial world about the things they say. If you don’t care at all about what others think of you, you can disregard this discussion. Congratulations! You’re undoubtedly an incredibly liberated person, and your social calendar probably contains few or no obligations. However, if your frontal lobe contains no abnormalities, and you, like most of us, partially craft and refine your identity based on social feedback, consider the following tips:
Don’t say anything about yourself in the third person: There’s a famous Seinfeld episode in which a character, Jimmy, talks about himself as though he’s an author using an omniscient voice to narrate his own life. The character’s inflated ego is based on nothing really impressive, and he comes off like a caricature and, ultimately, like a complete buffoon. If your high school pals or frat brothers once gave you a nickname, please lose it now that you’re no longer in high school or college. Nothing screams “shallow” and “juvenile” like an adult male still posting things like, “The wolfman is in rare form tonight, my friends!” Even Iron Mike Tyson doesn’t refer to himself as “the iron one.”
Don’t say anything that is passive aggressive: Passive aggression is like landfill-scented cologne on a guy. Most of us want to be perceived as potent men of action. Social media is not the venue for airing out your frustrations about some unnamed person.
“Hmmm. . .and I thought you were a friend.” Posts like this suggest that you’ve elected to safely tell the rest of the world something you’re too gutless to say directly to the guilty party. Safe? Gutless? Is that how you want to be perceived?
Don’t say anything about a female’s appearance: Hang on. This one’s going to come with a lot of qualifiers.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with complimenting your wife’s, girlfriend’s, friend’s, or a family member’s appearance in a posted photo. If you have been otherwise talking with and getting to know the object of your physically flattering comment, that should be fine, so long as you use some judgment when it comes to tone and word-choice. Be classy.
When, out-of-the-blue, you drop some cheap comment, the fact that it is done digitally does not separate you from the world of horn-honking truck-drivers. Has that ever worked?
Don’t say anything that is abstractly emotive: Posts that simply read, “disgusted” or “totally annoyed,” are reserved for teenagers and suggest that you’re trying to lure others into drawing out the source of your unpleasant emotion. You’re seeking attention and comfort in a completely passive aggressive and juvenile manner.
Do I really need to explain, any further, why this tip belongs on this list? If you’re an adult male and you need to passively request amateur psychotherapy from members of your online friend’s list, you’ve got a lot of growing up to do, and everyone on that list knows it.
Don’t say anything that is obviously hypocritical: If all of your friends know that you’re a smoker and drinker who counts crossword-puzzle completion as exercise, please don’t post articles about the health benefits of the goji berry or one of those ridiculous articles that claim “5 minutes of exercise is all you need.”
Either do something about your health or be quiet about it. You don’t need to be a vegan triathlete in order to be loved and respected by your friends; you just need to be genuine.
Finally, don’t use social media to air your dirty laundry: It is so undignified for couples, friends, and family members to conduct very personal arguments on their Facebook walls. What’s the goal here? Is one party trying to expose the other party’s flaws to all of his friends? Are both parties secretly hoping friends will join the argument and back them up? The only thing either party achieves in this scenario is a demotion to the social status of Jerry-Springer guests. If you’re going to behave like that on Facebook, please don’t post any of those infamous Walmart-shopper photos for the purpose of deriding their subjects; you’re probably cut from the same cloth.
In general, it seems as if many people see a disconnect between their terrestrial and digital identities. Often, they say things on social media platforms that they would never say in a face-to-face social situation, and I’m not referring to the ability to actually and audibly LOL. When it comes to the manner in which people form their opinions about you, there is little difference between your online and your terrestrial activity. Proceed accordingly.
By Vincent Corvino
About the Author:
Vincent Corvino’s writing has appeared in several literary journals, among them The Quarterly, New Letters, The Crescent Review and The Blue Moon Review. He is currently the lead singer of the New York City hard rock band, Urbansnake. He is a former student of Zen Buddhist Roshi, Rich Hart, and has trained as a boxer under former WBO Middleweight Champion, Doug Dewitt. He possesses an MA in Education from Columbia University and a Post-Graduate Certificate in School Leadership. He has been an English teacher since 1996.