Defining Social Media Etiquettes

As a functional society, human beings have always had to adhere to certain rules and regulations. It might have to vary across cultures and demographics but there were always customs and etiquettes that governed us.

With the internet becoming mainstream in the last two decades information and communication have moved drastically, and if I may dare say unnaturally. Social networking platforms and their notification pop up every second, and at a speed beyond what the human brain can process. Moreover, as a collective, it seems like we are all trying to keep up without as much as raising an eyebrow on what the actual consequences of our digital actions may be.

I’ve often wondered what the etiquettes on social media are. Where do we draw the line on what should be acceptable and what’s not when the digital world is moving at the speed of life.

What about our personal information getting shared a.k.a exploited as a billion-dollar industry. A lot has been said about the tech giants and companies capitalizing on consumer data, analyzing customer behavior to drive sales, or running customized political ads. Yet it seems like there’s still a blurred line on what\’s considered a violation or not.

To bring this topic too close to home, let\’s talk about the ‘trivial’ act of when and how it is appropriate to post pictures and information about other people. When do we ask for consensus? Do we even need to?

I took the liberty of asking a few friends what their thoughts were on this matter,

When it came to photos; most noted that friends rarely ask for consent when posting their photos and they’ve gotten used to it. They preferred if they were asked for consent but even if otherwise, it’s acceptable as long as it\’s a ‘decent enough’ photo. On the contrary, if it’s a photo of their product or services they would very much appreciate it (free marketing right lol).

When it came to videos I got a little bit more reluctant reactions. Most found videos were more revealing hence they didn’t like it when people posted videos of them at all.

To my surprise, I asked how they felt if the photo/video was shared at their workplace or while at work and most of them had no problem with that; they liked it. They saw it as a form of validation if I had to pick a word for the collective response. I even asked a few servers working in restaurants where I see most people clicking away their phones constantly and sometimes pointing cameras at the staff. They said they don’t mind, but they’d prefer if they were asked for permission.

The one common ‘unacceptable’ among all the people I questioned was ending up in the background of someone else\’s photo, video, or worst TikTok lol. The common reaction was ‘’What if I was doing something ‘inappropriate’ or what I don\’t want other people to see’’. And it goes without saying, none of them were social media influencers or have interests to be one.

So this begs the question: Is there social media etiquette? Who and when shall we decide what’s acceptable or not, as most of the trending or popular social media content has something to do with footage of people being exploited for laughs, making memes of strangers, and pranks. I don’t even want to get started on the so-called pranks.


I recently read a story about a four-year-old boy who made an official complaint of violation at his school after seeing there was a poster up in the school with his face on it. He went on to demand the poster be taken down because they didn’t ask for his permission. When he was told they had his parents\’ permission, he responded that it was his image, not his parents.

I say kudos to this brave four-year boy who demanded his right!

This also brings another question to mind. Is it also acceptable to share stories and pictures of their children? Is age a matter of importance or are parents entitled to children\’s data when all their digital footprints are being documented permanently. Or is it just cute when they use their toddlers as click baits?

And on the reverse do parents need to have a say on what young adults share on social media? As they are being persuaded to share all aspects of their life and pressured to portray a certain persona in the hopes of getting liked, being trendy, or going viral. Do parents need to censor their children\’s digital footprint?

As this seems to be a challenge that’s not getting resolved soon, on the contrary as the digital world is getting more sophisticated. I beg to ask how we are going to govern this meta era, as it is defining every aspect of our life. So I ask again how informed and prepared are we for the digital world?

It’s getting harder to be constantly aware of not violating other people’s rights and protecting our privacy. And it\’s become evident that we don’t give ourselves a minute to think before we hop on the next ‘hot’ app or whatever is trending. I believe we underestimate the ripple effects of these actions and how they will affect us and others around us.

How is it affecting the social fabric? It’d be nice if we thought about all the beautiful moments lost while trying to figure out the right angle or filter for the IG pic instead of enjoying each other\’s company, the shallow relationships just because it looks insta and tiktok perfect. I guess my questions can go beyond the depth of etiquette. Do you think human beings are designed for this digital reality? Have we done the aftermath of the ‘one connected world’ we are creating? I’ll leave that for you to ponder on.