While cruising your news feed, I bet you’ve read a few articles that tell you all the ways you’re doing social media wrong. They probably have titles like:
  • How Annoying Are You On Instagram?
  • 7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook
  • 43 Annoying Things People Do On Twitter
I find myself cringing reading these gems since I’m often guilty of at least one, if not all 43 things on the list. Or, worse, I puff up because it’s my neighbour/BFF/father-in-law who’s guilty of these apparent social media sins, and suddenly I’m tempted to share the article on Facebook and tag other culprits in the post.

…because we know this will be the thing to finally stop people from #hashtagging #the #hell #out #of #Instagram #posts...right?

If you have a low threshold for ‘annoying,’ you’re in luck: Teams of brilliant people are working, as we speak, in the headquarters of America’s most powerful corporations to fine-tune the algorithms that shield you from stuff you find ‘annoying.’" - Maureen O’Connor, The Joy of Unfollowing

However, next time you cringe at, revel in, or author one of these posts, here are some things to consider:

There are as many ways to use social media as there are people

Short of abusive posts, there are no wrong ways to engage online. Some ways just happen to annoy you, me, and Mr. Opinion Pants. But for every person rolling their eyes at Stella’s “overuse" of hashtags, there are ten people she delights and who found her through her abundant hashtags.

Someone unfollows you on Twitter because you post a link to your latest blog post three times in one day, while someone else replies with glee because they missed your first two tweets.

Have some compassion

Sure, maybe someone is looking for attention, bragging, or lonely and their post is a not-so-subtle tell. Instead of shaking your head or composing a 500 word essay about how much they annoy you, why not consider their story, instead?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." - Wendy Mass

Think: what might be going on in their lives to cause their behaviour? And ask: why is their unmet need a trigger for you? When my friend’s Instagram posts have more hashtags than pixels, I bristle for a lot of reasons. One is that it speaks to a neediness in myself that I know pops up in public spaces more than I’d like. And, for whatever reason, neediness repels. And who wants to repel? Not me.


The older I get, the kinder I am to my own lingering neediness and the neediness in others. We’re human. We need eachother. And that’s kind of wonderfully amazing. Even when it’s hard.

Delight in the unfollow

When I say delight in, I mean as the person doing the unfollowing and as the person being unfollowed. Why have people in your life who make you feel anything less than spectacular? If someone you have no investment in grates on you, walk away. And as the person left standing there, whisper your thanks to the universe for helping you shape your perfectly unperfect community.

A new acquaintance I was super excited about befriending unfollowed me on Twitter when I tweeted something she deemed too personal for public consumption. And man did that sting!

But I also thought about how great it is that I’m no longer at risk of making her uncomfortable. I don’t have to imagine her cringing while watching me do what I’m best at: being me. I'm growing to be a "stark, raving, maniacal fan of being unpopular."

"We should spend time trying to actively polarize our audience. Give them tools to help them know whether or not they should love us. And give it early and give it often." -Erika Napoletano

So, yes. Obviously just like life offline, it’s important and smart to have boundaries. But don’t shy away from updating your profile picture every full moon or posting about your trek through the desert just because some bossyhead ninny says your Facebook posts have to be useful and entertaining to 95% of your followers 85% of the time. That’s 78% hogwash.

Your social media is your canvass. What do you paint on it that makes you feel good? What will you be happy to remember 30 years from now when you dust off your digital archives to show your grandkids?

Forget about me and Mr. Opinion Pants. This is your domain. Make your own rules and delight in them.

“Embarrassing, perhaps. Awkward, alienating, depressing, enlightening, inspiring, boring — any emotional reaction is possible. But no self-expression on the Internet can be categorically too much, because to someone, that artifact of human existence is just right." - Maureen O’Connor, The Joy of Unfollowing

This post was written by Shannon Fisher. She's a writer and content strategist for The Republic of Quality.