This is a shame-free zone: It’s OK to love social media to the point of obsession. Go ahead, Instagram your next 24 hours. Tweet about the monotony of your commute home! Check-in to your house on Facebook. We don’t judge, because we love that stuff.
And just like everyone else living their lives on the Internet, we know that part of the protocol is posting all sorts of photos on the regular, may it be a selfie in the car, a picture of a spectacular sunset, your bagel at Starbucks, a screen grab of a funny chat message, or a stylized inspirational quote. However, after an hour or so browsing your regular online haunts, you’ll find yourself growing more and more impatient and annoyed as you get bombarded by a stream of photos that aren’t really cutting it. Or, on the flipside, after a few glasses of wine, maybe you’re thinking it’s time to upload those 500 photos of your trip to Florida. Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Nobody wants to be “that guy” or “that girl” when it comes to social sites. To that end, here are a few questions you should ask yourself uploading that photo to Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, or wherever. And answer honestly, OK?
1. Are you having an awesome hair day, or is your outfit cute?
Everyone has one of those days, and you’re absolutely allowed to celebrate. Feel free to take a well-angled selfie, brighten your face up with the Rise filter, and upload to Instagram. No need to push the upload on Facebook – all your friends who’d appreciate it are probably on Instagram, anyway. And there’s something about the Facebook or Twitter selfie (especially those pushed from Instagram) that just seems too indulgent. It’s a much more acceptable Instagram habit, so let’s just leave it there. Also, don’t post a selfie everyday. It just makes everyone sort of sad …
2. Are you covering a family event?
If it’s your family, go ahead and share an album of it on Facebook – your relatives on the site will appreciate you for it. Just make sure to take more pictures of people you actually know rather than photos of random strangers. If you’re already planning on uploading an album worth of pics on Facebook, don’t post said photos on Instagram. We already see one photo at a time on there as it is, so don’t be a jerk by clogging up the feed. If you really can’t be stopped, create a photo collage and limit your family reunion coverage to one Instagram image. Two at most, really, no one else cares about your cousin’s graduation and the subsequent BBQ. But your family does! So Facebook album away!
If it’s someone else’s family, unless someone explicitly asked you to take their photo, don’t bother uploading it online. That’s just creepy.
3. How many baby photos have you taken today?
Aww … so is your baby wearing a super cute onesie? OK, go ahead and post a photo on Instagram and Facebook, where cuteness is generally celebrated. If, however, you’re feeling rather trigger happy with that camera phone and think that your baby’s twenty micro-expressions are just worth it, keep those on the phone and the phone alone. One best baby photo a day is acceptable, preferable if kept in a Facebook photo album like “My baby’s milestones” or something. Moderation, people.
4. No children? Cute dog and/or cat?
Your pet is pretty much like your child, so apply the same rules I just mentioned to animal photos – limit to one photo a day on Facebook or Instagram or keep them in your phone or computer. If your furry friend has a particularly special expression on, make sure you upload it on Tumblr as well, where it will always be well received. Better yet, grab an animated GIF app and go to town; we all know how much the Tumblrsphere will appreciate that.
Honestly though, make it a special moment. With the rate the Internet is going, we are never going to run out of cute animal photos. Don’t worry.
5. Did you just have a hilarious chat with someone?
Please share your screenshot on Twitter or Facebook, where a bigger version of the photo can be enjoyed. Uploading it to Tumblr is also an option – better yet, link up your Tumblr to Facebook and Twitter so you get a nice little integration and keep everything together. Skip Instagram – please. We beg of you.
6. Did you just take a photo of a sunset?
Oh man, congratulations on seeing that thing that happens every day, everywhere, ever! Sorry, had to. Well is the photo pretty amazing as is, no editing? As in, you used DSLR and set the manual settings and everything? Then feel free to make it your new Facebook or Twitter cover photo. If you took it with your phone and it will only look good if you saturate the hell out of it, head to Instagram. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Do not upload to Facebook. Seriously, any Facebook album titled “Sunsets” is going to get about two likes from your parents. Just don’t even go through the trouble.
7. Is the thing you are about to photograph food?
OK food porn and photo-sharing is something of a controversial topic (Sidenote: Don’t you all love that this is a controversial topic!?). So you need to ask yourself a slew of sub-questions to this question: Is this an exotic or strange meal – like are you about to eat giraffe (that’s sad, don’t do that, they’re cute)? Alright, that with a caption is interesting, and you have no holds on where you post. Is your meal artfully arranged, i.e. is it a cupcake shaped like the Millennium Falcon? Again, upload that where you please, though we’d argue that some Instagram art and hashtags are only going to make that better.
Is it a PB&J sandwich? No. Absolutely not. No photo, no way, no how. Is it a plain ol’ steak dinner, but you just want to brag about going to a fancy restaurant? Again, no. That’s just sad.
8. Are you taking a picture of a picture?
If you personally went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and saw the beautiful masterpiece in the flesh, include yourself in the photo to commemorate the event and feel free to share on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Don’t bother snapping a photo of just the art piece by itself – that’s what Google Images is for.
If you just love the painting but have not exactly been to see it, I guess you can upload or re-pin it on Pinterest. Skip the other social networks. For the love of Google, skip it.
9. Is it date night?
If you’re in a blissful relationship, chances are, we already know about it … no need to rub it in anyone’s face. If your date is a celebration of an anniversary, you can create a collage of sorts and post one (just one!) Twitpic or Instagram picture, and OK, on Facebook so you can mark it as a life event. Anything more than that is considered bragging – save your shots for your photo albums at home where you and your beau can enjoy them by yourselves. If you overdo it and upload a photo from your weekly date night, you’re going to collectively piss off the world. If you must, must do it – Instagram only. We’re cutting you off!
10. Are you getting crafty?
If you intend to write a detailed how-to to go along with your photos, skip uploading photos on social networks altogether – write a blog post and share the link on Facebook and Twitter – don’t keep it all there. Share the final product shot on Instagram or Pinterest, naturally.
11. Are you at a super-awesome concert?
If you’re in the nose-bleed section aka General Admission, take one crowd shot, upload to Instagram, slap a filter, and be done with it – push the single upload to Facebook or Twitter. No need to take or share more than that, unless you’re in the front row – in that case, take one close-up photo and upload it to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Then put your damn phone away and just enjoy the show, will you?
12. Are you with someone famous?
Definitely upload across all your social media accounts. This is one of those situations wherein multiple uploads are excusable, so take it and run! Do whatever you want, it’s Jason Freakin’ Mraz!!!! Yeah, that’s right! That’s me with The Mraz!
13. Do you have your favorite movie quote in fancy typography?
If you’re gifted with graphic design skills, the best outlets for your masterpieces are Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram (Instagram is almost a stretch – if you’re really sticking to the rules, let’s stick with the former two). Users there are your people, don’t be afraid. If it’s someone else’s work, be satisfied in pinning it to Pinterest.
14. You think your duck face impersonation is too cute not to post?
It’s not, so don’t even think about it.
15. Are you about to do something you’ve never done before?
This is another situation where multiple uploads are totally excusable, screw the social media police. Now go take that skydiving selfie and be sure to post it not just on Instagram, but on Facebook and Twitter as well. Don’t blame us if your phone goes flying off, though.
16. Is it a picture of baby you?
Post it on Instagram, but only on Thursdays. You may push to Twitter with the appropriate hashtag.
17. How drunk are the subjects of this photo?
Very? Are you over 21 but under 25? Then OK, but request people to tag themselves (or not do it at all) and perhaps create an album that only a certain set of your social circle can see (not you, parents!). Over 25 and still want to upload that wastey-face picture? The previously mentioned rules apply, but be prepared for some “we’re too old for that” scorn. Stay away from Instagram and Twitter because you can’t control who sees the upload.
18. How drunk are you? Right now?
As a sort of follow up, ask yourself right now – how drunk are you? A little? A lot? Or maybe you’re just very tired – it’s 4 a.m. and you decided to go on a photo uploading spree! Back away from computer, friend. If you are overly emotional or drunk or tired, just wait until you’re feeling a little saner. You might think in your state a photo of you and your ex is a sign of friendship. It’s not. It’s weird.