The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at firstname.lastname@example.org) your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s going to give you some tips on how you can let people know on social media where you are without being annoying.
Being active on social media is totally normal and there will always be people who’d be more than interested in your daily endeavors, but in the Too Much Information Age that we all now live in, it’s also quite easy to go overboard with the play-by-plays and drown unwitting spectators with petty content. Nobody needs to know you’re at the Starbucks near the place you work when you’re there every single morning. You also don’t have to check into every street or corner you turn on.
Sharing your location on various social networks may have its perks – it may give birth to a spur-of-the-moment hangout with your pals – but on some occasions, it can lead to disastrous results. I hope my answers to the following questions will help you decide when it’s a good time to share your whereabouts and when it’s not.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m following a friend on Twitter who posts nothing but her check-ins on Foursquare. She’s telling me I should sign up for an account so we can take turns being Mayor of god-knows-where. I don’t understand what she means. I’m terribly annoyed by her constant tweets of nothing but locations, but I don’t want to be a bad friend by shutting her out. What do I do?
In case you didn’t already know, Foursquare is supposedly a platform designed to recommend places for you to visit based off of your personal locations you check into. If you check into a particular location the most times in the past 60 days, through Foursquare, you become Mayor of that location. In order to even be eligible for that made-up title, you need to enable the mayorship option in Foursquare’s privacy settings. You also need to have a profile photo and are required to check-in publicly.
If you think that’s something you dig, by all means, go for it. But I am sensing that joining Foursquare is not the right fit for you, judging by the irritation you feel at perusing you friend’s Twitter feed. Speaking of Twitter, if she really has nothing but cross-posts on there, just unfollow her and absolve yourself from guilt. If she makes a big deal out of it, just tell her you can always keep in touch on Facebook … where you can easily hide all her notifications.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m something of a hermit, so when I go out and do something fun I want to let my loved ones know about my adventures. I also mostly communicate with my friends and family via Facebook anyway. Do you think it’s OK to share my location?
It depends on the location. If it’s a well-known restaurant chain like McDonalds or Taco Bell, don’t bother. In an ideal world, people ought to check into locations that they’ve never been to before or places they want to remember and visit again in the future. For example, it’s okay to check into a quaint little restaurant you went to while on a road trip to Yellowstone Park if you think you’d be making a similar trip in the future. That way, you will always have that digital footprint filed away and it will be easy to go back.
You’ve mentioned that you’re almost always at home, so I thought I should give you a heads up: Never, ever check into “my bedroom” or some fancy equivalent of “Home Sweet Home.” Some people find this hilarious, but not only is it not safe (you never know who’s watching your check-ins), it’s also unnecessary and utterly annoying. Make your locations count!
Dear Miss Netiquette: My girlfriend and I hang out all the time and I love her and everything, but every time we go somewhere, she’s on Instagram on her phone, taking snapshots, and letting the world know where we are and tagging me. How do I talk her into dialing it down?
To get her attention, act all mopey and give her the silent treatment – girls hate that. When she’s finally focusing on you, you can tell her that it’s bugging you that she’s spending too much time on Instagram and not enough time on you and the wonderful date you have arranged. Try to phrase it more as a request and less like a demand or criticism so she’d be more receptive.
There are people out there who have unwavering passion for Instagram, and it seems like your girlfriend is one of them, so if she wants to publish her location, that’s her decision. You, however, have the right to discourage her from tagging you, especially if she cross-posts her Instagrams on Facebook and you have people in both your networks you would rather not have knowing where you are.
If you really are concerned about her incessant need to check into every place you go to, just tell her that it’s very easy for sex offenders to use social media to track down unsuspecting victims, and publishing your whereabouts publicly isn’t helping. And you can untag or deny location tags that go to your page if she’s cross-posting to Facebook. On Instagram it’s not quite as easy, and of course if you’re in the picture it’s all more difficult. But ask her to compromise: Maybe one or two pictures of date night … and then just ask her to enjoy what’s happening in real life.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I just experienced the worst service ever at a Starbucks during my trip to New York. The barista was rude and basically told me my order was against their store policy, when I know for a fact that Starbucks does custom drinks all the time. I want to discourage coffee lovers from visiting that branch. I’ve only ever used Yelp to find new restaurants to eat at. Should I take my complaint online?
Yelp is usually a reliable source for discovering new restaurants to try out, and most users who visit the site use it for that purpose. There’s a Starbucks at pretty much every corner of every busy city like New York – coffee drinkers don’t necessarily go on Yelp to find the best branch to go to. If you really had a terrible experience with how an employee treated you, it’s important to nip the problem at the bud and speak with the people who can actually do something about it. The best way to handle it is by talking to the manager. If you think that’s too confrontational for your taste, you can head over to Starbuck’s company website and leave them feedback on the Customer Service page.
If you want to discourage people from going to a specific Starbucks branch, you can write a quick post on your blog talking about your experience or a brief status update on Facebook or Twitter.
If you’re still pissed off after all that, then OK. Post a Yelp review, but only if you promise to not to post reviews for every single Starbucks branch you visit in the future. And seriously, Yelp reviews can make or break a specific location, so before you tear the place a new one for one employee’s behavior, try seeking a manager out first.