Social Media Etiquette: What Your Mama Never Told You

(photo courtesy of

Let’s be real, here. Your mama wanted to tell you. She really did. But see, when she was comin’ up, there was no such thing as social media. Heck, unless your mama is a really young one, there was no internet. Unimaginable, but true.

Seriously, did we walk into walls before the internet came along?

Since mama, bless her heart, didn’t have the chance to tell you, I’ve done a lot of research and interviews (ok those last two things aren’t true) and came up with top tips of social media etiquette. Being the helpful person I am, I thought I’d share them with you.


When you’re out having fun, it’s natural to want to post pictures to commemorate the occasion. It was special! Your buds were with you! You had a great time!

But before you post those photos, especially those with captions like, “out with my best friends in the world!” – think for a nanosecond: is there anyone who might see my post and feel left out? Is there anyone out there whose feelings might be hurt?

If the answer is “yes,” don’t post it. Doing so is just mean or, at the very least, insensitive. And we know you aren’t either of those things.


When you have a meal with friends or family, it’s rude to include your mobile phone. In fact, I’ve heard it told that pulling out your phone is the equivalent of leaving the room.

Are you really going to leave the room in favor of your phone in the middle of a social outing? Wait, don’t answer that.

Unless you’re taking a photo, put your phone away when you’re having a meal with someone else. ANYONE else. It doesn’t matter if it’s your bestie or your spouse. In fact, your bestie and your spouse are the last people you should do this with.

Just don’t. It’s rude.

Be in the moment. Direct your attention to your dining partner.


Let’s assume you’re mad at your mama or your sister or your ex or your (ex)bestie.

My research a/k/a what my kids tell me is that when you make comments or posts online that you intend as a not-so-subtle message to someone, it’s called sub-tweeting.

You can post all those pics of how good you look or how happy you are or whatever your message is. And it can even be true. But, is this the best way to get your point across? Is it the most mature way to say what you want to say?

I submit that it’s not. On the contrary.

I’m not trying to be ugly; I’m telling you what everyone else wants desperately to tell you but they just don’t know how to without being mean: it makes you look desperate.

Find healthier ways to express yourself. Take a deep breath and talk to the person directly. Write them an old-fashioned letter and mail it. Or don’t mail it. Writing out all your emotions in a letter without mailing or delivering it is a really, really effective way to rid yourself of festering anger and hurt. Give it a try.

“Subtweeting” online hurts exactly one person: YOU.

Oh, and, while I’m at it: be careful not to overshare. Not only is posting your every thought unnecessary, it’s dangerous. There are bad people out there scrolling social media sites gathering information to use against you or your family members. Keep your personal information personal.


Miss Manners would tell you it’s impolite to discuss politics at the dinner table. The same applies to social media.

Whaaaaaaaaat did I just say?

You heard me. Leave politics out of social media. If someone posts something political you don’t agree with, ignore it.

But wait, where are we gonna fight? Umm, maybe at the ballot box? ‘Cause that’s where it counts? Call me crazy…

Here’s a scientific fact: fighting about politics on social media convinces exactly no one to change their point of view. It does nothing but divide. And gee whiz, aren’t we divided enough?

I’m reminded of Bridget Jones’ Diary where she talks about “smug marrieds,” who think they have it all figured out, just because they’re married.

You may be thinking, oh yea, I completely agree with her. Especially because what I believe about politics is…Correct! True! Reasonable! Imma let you in on a little secret. And don’t tell those other people, because they’ll never understand: the people who don’t believe what you believe think their ideas are just as valid as yours!

Ok, I know, I know! I know they’re wrong! Believe me, I get it!

But, can we just take a step back and take a breath and give the other guy the freedom to be wrong?

One of the most useful tools I ever held in my hand as a mother was to let my children figure out the wrong answer on their own. Because, guess what, they figured out the correct answer the same way!  And if they don’t find the same answer I do, well, the world keeps turning, doesn’t it?


I shouldn’t have to say this since it’s against the law in most if not every state, but stay off your mobile device when you’re driving.

At least one someone close to me, who I love dearly, has a really bad habit of driving down the highway, steering with one hand and looking at their phone in the other. Guess which thing, scrolling or driving, takes precedence in a person’s mind?

That’s right, scrolling.

So what about your x-thousand-pound vehicle traveling at xty-miles per hour? Yea…no one’s manning that ship.

If you wanna kill yourself, that’s on you. But have some consideration for the people driving in the other lanes and put down your ding-dang phone.


Don’t argue over text message. If you sense a “discussion” getting into argument territory, put it all on hold. Say, “You know what, let’s have this conversation in person because it’s too easy to misunderstand each other over text message.” You’ll be glad you did.


When someone texts you, respond. Even if it’s to say, “I need to get back to you.” Failing to respond to someone who knows you well enough to a) have your phone number (not counting robo-messages or psychos) and b) send you a text message, deserves the courtesy of a response. Anything less is the equivalent of “screw you.” I’d use more forceful language, but my mama reads my posts.

Now, my little social butterflies, go forth, and sin no more! 😉

*When I first started blogging, I made a promise to myself that it would not address politics. Then, as now, people got plenty of political content elsewhere. I include it here only because it fits this post. 





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