Social Media Code of Conduct

It’s like the wild wild West out there


Remember back in the day when our sole method of communication was the telephone? Everyone expected to be contacted via one technological apparatus and the only information you were attempting to glean was whether or not your friend was home yet from a piano lesson.

Plain and simple.

It wasn’t strange at all to use the phone to call someone. You just had to be prepared to speak to a parent, first.

Then AIM and email came along, multiplied like rabbits, and here we are, with more ways than the NSA to not only get in touch but collect information about each other.

So where are the boundaries?

My own overanalyzing of this topic leads to second-guessing myself, which leads to uncertainty, and before I know it, I’ve missed the 1st Ave stop on the L train, all because I was deeply contemplating whether the person I requested on Gchat earlier will think that I’m weird or if I’m about to get reprimanded because I texted a co-worker instead of emailing.

But I know it’s not just me…

You go to follow a person you recently met but their account is private:

Gut-check your creep level. If you don’t care, get in there. If the embarrassment stakes are too high, DON’T DO IT.

A reminder: you’re essentially saying, “We hardly know each other but I’m about to scroll through the past 178 weeks of your life.” If your personal constitution can withstand a pending request for days or a non-reciprocated follow, be my guest. (Mine cannot.) Otherwise, save yourself.

How soon is too soon to add someone on Facebook?

We can universally agree that if you don’t do it in moment with the person present (“Adding you!”) you 100% risk looking like a stalker if you do it three weeks later.

But also, sometimes it’s necessary to figure out if your new friend went to summer camp with your college roommate’s brother and you take the aforementioned risk in the name of a Jewish geography victory. I think Facebook figured this out, hence why they added “people you may know.” Thanks for thinking of us, FB. It makes us look less weird.

Email? Or text?

We might as well be debating the chicken and the egg.

If you start off a relationship texting, is it weird to all of a sudden email?

If you start off emailing, what topics get shifted to text?

It’s safe to say that if your typical text looks like a newspaper column, email. If you’re just letting someone know you saw his or her doppelgänger at Chipotle, text.

Adding someone on Gchat:

Gchat feels wholly essential and completely unnecessary at the same time.

It’s the perfect place for imperative conversations about nothing with friends where face-to-face conversations require a plane ride or more days in the week.

However, unless your job requires it, no one needs to stack that list with extraneous contacts. This isn’t AIM and no one has time for “nmu?” Keep the edit tight.

General conversing via telephone:

I limit using my phone as an actual phone for grandmothers and checking on my Seamless order.

Meanwhile, I’ve been known to deliver some rather large life news to important people via email because the thought of talking on the phone is more overwhelming than the news itself.

Though I’m getting better with the select group of phone-talkers in my life, I’d rather break my thumbs arduously hashing out why you’re mad at me via text. Still, many women and men I know find it polite when their date calls regarding plans, so…fair game here — up to you.


Snapchat is a lawless place. It is perfectly acceptable to watch and send snaps to people we’d probably avoid saying hi to on the street.

120 seconds of an acquaintance-at-best swimming around in a fish bowl or fixing her face under a pair of kitten ears? Yes, I’d love to experience that, thank you.

And what are the rules when it comes to people you work with?

Old bosses? Current bosses? Co-workers?

I know HR said something about keeping your personal life separate from your work life, but if Brittany in Finance is following that chic girl from Marketing on Instagram, then I’m hoping on board, too.

That being said, if your quasi-manager adds you, are you obligated to follow back and like the photos of her new cat?

…The answer is probably yes. Time to back-stalk yourself and delete anything “funny at the time.”

Social media is a tricky game with ample opportunities for embarrassment and bad form. But your fate is in your own hands. And at the end of the day, as with life, no one knows what they’re doing anyway.

Collages by Emily Zirimis


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  • Sure hope my wanting to follow MR on Twitter since yesterday is … time appropriate?☺

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  • This is super relevant in my life right now, since my “quasi-boss” (more like coworker but he outranks me) started following me – for no apparent reason – on Instagram. I choose not to follow the few coworkers that follow me. And if my coworker is ok with all her “ab pics” and working out, I don’t think I’ll delete anything. Still, when I go to post things, I now have to think: “am I ok having my coworkers see this?”

    • I feel like EVERYONE should ALWAYS think “am I OK with my boss/coworker seeing this” even if they do not follow you.

      • Totally agree! But for me it’s more like: I’m taking a harmless selfie, and yet I’m feeling really strange thinking my coworkers will see it. Mostly because I’m more of the “professional” and “serious” type. Does that make sense? Like I’m two kind of different people and I don’t know how to cope with the two coming together.

  • This is a great conversation. There are certain things you just need to pick the phone up for. It’s hard to tell what someone is saying behind what they are saying.

  • Liz

    Yeah, blending work life and personal/social media life is a whole other conversation rife with uncertainty and potential land mines. I mean, what do you do if a co-worker requests to add/follow you and you’d rather not? Or if you’re doing the requesting and WEEKS pass and you still see a ‘Friend Request Sent’ icon? Such awkward. Sometimes I long for the days of land lines and dial-up.


  • Love this and also miss the 1st Ave stop on the L train, all the time.

  • Megan Dollar

    This has me wondering what it says about us that, when trying to connect in a more personal matter (i.e. phone call), it requires so much planning and scheduling.