From Instabraggers to emoji addicts, Michael Hogan lists the digital dude pitfalls
Ever been introduced to someone and thought, “Aha, this must be that wally off the web”? Of course you have. One’s online presence has become like a haircut, shoes, handshake or aroma: a quick way for people to judge you. Social media is a risky business and, to some extent, it’s a battle you can’t win. Everyone comes across as a slight knobhead online, but it’s a case of everything in moderation. Limit the damage by not becoming one of these internet irritants…
1. THE WORKOUT TWEETER
“Will hurt tomorrow but what a burn! Go hard or go home! #nopainnogain #shred.” “I just ran 5.8km and burned 800 calories with Whocares+ using the Shuddup app.” “2hr bikram yoga sesh really set me up for the day. Bring it!!! #pumped.” Are we supposed to be impressed? Or motivated by your abs selfie? Use you as ‘gymspiration’? Because we’ve got to say, Mr Maximuscle, social media posts about exercise really suck the joy out of all this sitting-down-and-looking-at-a-screen thing that we’re doing. They also mean we picture you perspiring heavily in a pair of shorts with a perished lining.
2. THE INSTAGRAM BRAGGER
Last year, a US study by Slate found Instagram to be the most depressing social network, due to smuggos broadcasting how great their lives are. We know you want to “share” (web-speak for ‘show off’), but people don’t want to see the view from your hotel suite, the cocktail you’re sipping, the VIP party you’re at, the expensive thing you’ve bought or the beach you’re on (featuring your ugly feet – it’s OK, everyone’s feet are ugly). Mainly because most people are stuck at work, on the sofa or skint. Putting it through arty filters and pretending you’re “really into photography” won’t help either.
3. THE WORK MOANER
Sure, most of us find our jobs a bit boring at times. We might dread Mondays and start clock-watching at 4pm. No need to go on about it. Non-stop career-based negativity brings everyone down. It also makes you look like an eminently unemployable miserablist, which won’t boost your chances of finding anything better. Prospective employers might look you up on social media, so make sure they aren’t deterred.
4. THE OVER-ENTHUSIAST
Remember “Brilliant!” kid off The Fast Show (pictured right)? Well, he’s on social media now, saying stuff like, “This is awesome! So excited for tonight. Only two more sleeps! Totally stoked. Yay! LOVE.” You don’t have to be a jaded cynic, but don’t channel a hyperactive toddler hopped up on Skittles. We’re British; skeleton bob and being downbeat are two of the few things we’re great at.
5. THE SERIAL LINKEDIN ENDORSER
The endorsement function on LinkedIn was a neat enough idea when it launched in 2012, enabling you to recommend your professional contacts, like a sort of virtual, one-click reference. However, it’s since been rendered meaningless through overuse. Users are endorsing people they’ve never met for skills they don’t know they possess. People’s mums are endorsing them. Endorsements have become indiscriminate and reciprocal, like one big backslapping session. Most users don’t want their account clogged up with stuff in which they have no genuine expertise. Constant notifications also annoy, so go easy on the random button-clicking or you’ll alienate the very people with whom you're hoping to form connections.
6. THE EMOJI AND ACRONYM ADDICT
The likes of Twitter and WhatsApp have spawned a whole lexicon of space-saving shorthand: abbreviations, acronyms and icons. But use sparingly and only during informal exchanges with friends. Emojis are fine from a schoolgirl, less so from a grown man. They tend not to make much sense either. Why are a grimacing face, a high-heeled shoe and a blue cat flying to the moon to unwrap a present and uncork some Freixenet? See also: over-deployment of Twitter hashtags #justsayin #YOLO #FML #fail.
7. THE FOURSQUARE BORE
Isn’t it clever how technology can tell everyone your geographical location? Clever, yes. Interesting, rarely. Tagging yourself at airports is unsubtle travel boasting. ‘Checking in’ at hotels, bars or restaurants is just another form of Instagram brag or ‘nom’ numptyism (see below). As for the gym, shops and even your own home – seriously, why bother? It becomes like a breathless child telling you about their day (“Then we went to the park and then we went to the shops and then we bought sweets and then we ate them and did a burp”) – only not nearly as cute.
8. THE ‘NOM’ NUMPTY
Everyone likes good food. We like making it, eating it and swapping restaurant recommendations. Just don’t overcook the Instagrammed pics and “get in my belly #nom”-type missives. The occasional spectacular meal, enormo-steak or teetering tower of burger meat is fine. Everything that passes your lips isn’t. What’s next? Snapping it on the way out?
9. THE SERIAL UPDATER
Noticed the weather conditions? Public transport playing up? Ailed by a sniffle? Child or pet done something remarkable? Make sure you tell the whole world about it, that’s the serial updater’s philosophy. But be warned: by bombarding your bored, blankly-staring audience with daily grind minutiae, you run the risk of updates that are actually important or interesting getting overlooked. Sometimes on social media, less is more. Before pressing “send”, ask yourself if this would make acceptable conversation at a crowded pub table. If not, delete. Or text it to your partner/mum/therapist, who’ll be more likely to feign interest.
10. THE BOOZE’N’ BANTZ MERCHANT
Boys will be boys. Boys might also have a tendency to become “lads”, “chaps” or “ruddy bloody blokes” after a few drinks. Nights out drinking might be entertaining for the participants, but they rarely are for the rest of us. By all means, exchange “bantz” about who threw up, lost a shoe or woke up on a night bus being interfered with by a tramp. Feel free to compare hangovers, seek corroboration of hazily-remembered events and share pics of you all, shiny-faced, red-eyed, arms around each other’s shoulders. But consider keeping them to a private forum. Otherwise you could come across as an outdated crashing bore with alcohol issues, which is less of a strong look #ledge #ladbombs #beeroclock #ohgodimsoalone.
And a bonus Lily Allen tip:
PLUG NEWS, NOT YOURSELF
“I love Twitter, but I don’t like how famous people sell stuff on there. Social networking isn’t social networking now, it’s self-promotion – how you want people to perceive you. I find it transparent. It looks like you’re having fun at a party, but you’re not, because you’re in the toilets Instagramming.
“What I like is how people get excited about current affairs; phone hacking and the riots – how news spreads. But I hate that, ‘Oh Nelson Mandela’s dead, let’s Wikipedia that speech he did’ thing. As if it’s had a profound effect on them. That stuff is gross.”
(Images: Thinkstock; BBC)