Remember dial-up connections? Luckily, it is not as difficult to hop online today as it was in the 90s, which means that more people than ever have access to the Internet. But even though we no longer have to sweat our connection speed, there are other aspects of the Web that frustrate us now.
For the word nerds among us, perhaps the most annoying online “ism” is a burgeoning culture of terrible writers on social media. Does your content add to the conversation, or are you one of the social media users that drive the rest of us crazy?
Read on to see if any of the following descriptions apply to you.
Do you post a status update for every single thing that happens in your life? Does something “epic” seem to happen to you every single day? Is your Instagram full of pictures of food or cats?
Let’s face it, nobody cares about the salad you ate for lunch or the weather outside your office building. Unless your salad is garnished with spider legs or there is a June blizzard in Florida, leave the bland stuff for small talk.
Your followers and subscribers are looking for the most interesting things happening to you each week, so be discriminating about the types of things you are sharing. Some chronic oversharers have found that restricting the number of things they post per day to be a great way to limit the content they share.
The Grammar Police
Have you ever created an online account for the sole purpose of correcting someone’s grammar? Are your Facebook friends terrified that you will comment on the punctuation and spelling in their status updates? Do you look for highly-opinionated forums just to point out a user’s grammar error?
Sure, your nitpicking may be amusing to your friends, but when you start correcting strangers, you are likely to get quite the backlash. While criticism is great, as pointed out in this New York Times blog post, not everybody is asking for it. Focus on your own quality writing, and try to refrain from calling others’ mistakes to light.
Whenever you correct someone's grammar just remember that nobody likes you.
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) April 24, 2012
Is your entire blog centered on your day? Do you post “selfies” of yourself driving on your way to work? Do you constantly check your Facebook to see who liked your post?
Unless you have put together a unique costume for a once-in-a-lifetime party, save your followers the energy it takes to scroll past the 1,000th “selfie” of your green shirt on St. Patrick’s Day. While there are many exceptions to this rule, posting constantly about yourself is generally a turnoff to your friends and followers.
Try taking some interesting photos of the world around you; or even better, update your Facebook or Twitter profile with a cute anecdote about something that happened to you during the day. This will give readers a glimpse into your personal life – and not into your eyes. Again.
Has your vocabulary become infected with catchphrases from well-known memes like “Cool Story Bro,” “That Escalated Quickly” or “Ain’t nobody got time for that?” Are Instagram pictures your sole contribution to meaningful Internet discussions?
It may be tempting to re-share an eCard you find humorous, but sometimes it is best to simply use your words. After all, isn’t that what writing is all about? If you only share photos and catchphrases, your audience isn’t going to find consider you as a credible source — unless you write a photography or satire blog.
When reading a news story or article, are you likely to head down a wormhole of research and fact-checking? Do your posts have enough ten-dollar-words for a down payment on a small house?
While this isn’t necessarily a horrible use of the Internet, it may be time-consuming — not to mention your audience may not be able to understand your writing. Unless you are writing for a particular niche like medicine or finance, it is best to write at a middle school level. Don’t “dumb it down,” by any means, but aim for a casual, easy-to-read tone.
Do you write posts or comment on articles — regardless of the topic — just to create debate or controversy? Do you post irrelevant comments online just to anger somebody and elicit a reaction? Internet trolls may be the worst of all online offenders!
Let’s look at Shovel Girl, for example. Here’s an example of a comment from an Internet troll:
I can assure you that “Bob F” did not become a “super user” (as his status reports) by watching videos and adding relevant comments. In fact, when I watched the video, I didn’t even see a cat — and believe me, as a cat person, I am the master of playing “I spy” with cats. While Bob here uses a name that is somewhat normal, here’s a more explicit example of an Internet troll:
Feeding an Internet troll is like feeding gremlins after midnight. Don’t do it! (And don’t be it.)
Because much of the content we post online is for our personal social media channels, it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that no one but our friends and followers will see it. However, once you post something online, it is definitely searchable – probably forever.
Readers: What type of social media user drives you up the wall?