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What to Not Post or Share on Social Media

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Peter Sagal wrote a tweet that summarizes some rules I've probably read somewhere else before. However, I took his reminder as a waking call for myself to change my behavior on social media such as Mastodon or Twitter.

Peter posted his rules as an image, which is a pity because this is preventing people from searching for its content. Don't do that. I could not find a web page which had the rules in text, so I do a full-quote myself.

His tweet starts with:

In response to narrowly spread demand, here are my Rules of Twitter. Note that each was learned by violating it repeatedly over the years, so don't bother going back in my feed to find contradictions... trust me, I know.

Peter’s Rules of Twitter

  1. You will and have regretted many tweets. You will never regret not tweeting.
  2. Is it intended to delight, inform or amuse? Then go ahead. If not, don’t.
  3. Never argue with anybody about anything. Really.
  4. … except pizza, whether hot dogs are sandwiches, and old movies/TV shows.
  5. Don’t say anything about a piece of current art/writing/culture you wouldn’t say to the face of the person who created it.
  6. Never promote any info or news unless it comes from a source you would trust to tell you which door the tiger is behind.
  7. The only useful purpose of having a bigger platform than other people is to use it to benefit those other people, so boost and recommend widely.
  8. Resist the common urge to engage with the one critic rather than the many fans.
  9. Never, ever insult anyone personally. Mockery is fine, as long as it aimed upwards.
  10. To survive on the veldt, humans evolved to crave sugars and fats and to get energized by anger and fear. We don’t live on the veldt anymore. Refrain from feeding obsolete hungers.

Implications on My Behavior

I can not promise that I may follow all of his rules from now on in any situation. However, I try to.

One of the things that worried me in recent time was the fact that I shared things that turned out fake news or had some issues in any form. Although I do have really nice followers who spent their time to check the background and inform me of my error, I would like to prevent this for the future as much as possible. If not, I'd be part of the social media problem, not of its good sides.

I hope you agree when I say that I've got the impression that the following rules should mostly be met by me already: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9.

Furthermore, I do think that I did not violate that much the rules 8 and 10.

Something I really need to establish more is compliance with rules 1, 3, 6.

Rule number 1 is something I need to work on. Some messages are short-lived rants that nobody profits from. Some others might just stupid. I hope I can reduce them in future.

While I do think that I understand the background for rule number 3, I still struggle between "getting into a good discussion" and "avoid any discussion on social media". Social media is (mostly) not a good place for discussions. This is partly related to the fact that too many people do seem to have difficulties to separate objective arguments from personal attacks. It is also partly tool-related. Technologies like the Usenet were much better platforms for discussions in my opinion.

Rule number 6 is the rule that triggers me most. It is really tempting to re-share something that supports your confirmation bias without checking its content properly. Although it's hard, I need to improve here. You will probably notice that the amount of shared messages might decrease. This should be related mostly to rule number 6.

What do you think of this? Do you agree on my personal view above? Drop me a comment below and tell me.

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