Calling Out Bad Social Media

I see so much bad social media from the people I follow, which is sad, because I consider myself to be somewhat picky when it comes to who I follow and connect with on social networks.

Still, at least once a week, if not daily, I see something really horrible, such as:

  • People tweet ingphotos of things in the bathroom that did not need to be seen outside of the bathroom, let alone on the entire internet
  • Your ‘friends’ share updates and commentary that are cringeworthy at best, or at worst, leave you huddled in the shower, scrubbing endlessly to wash off that unclean feeling.
  • People publish every single action they are taking, whether by posting to Foursquare, Miso, or just updating every network as much as possible in some desperate attempt to appear to have a life.


You think people would learn the internet is public and will last nearly forever, or at least until the nuclear apocalypse.

When it gets that terrible,  I don’t want to be a better social media marketer. I just want to stand upon my mountain of Klout and do this:

You're Doing it Wrong - The Anti-Social Media

Damn. That would feel good.

But I’m too nice for that, so instead I cringe and sigh, hoping one day I’ll have followers who will know it’s not ok to tweet a photo of a public toilet after it was used.

What do you do when you see social media that makes you want to curl up and die? Do you notify the offender privately? Publicly shame them? Stealthily unfollow?

I need some tips here ladies and gentlemen, before I have to see another bad toilet pic.


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37 Responses to “Calling Out Bad Social Media”

  1. Brad January 20, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    The problem, I think, lies in that some people use ‘social media’ for ‘social marketing’, and some people use them for ‘socializing’. Or being ‘sociopaths’.

    With things like LinkedIn, there’s at least some sort of context for the interactions and exchanges that go on, so you’re less likely to see an epic deuce. With things like Twitter and Facebook that just scream ‘share pictures with your friends’… well, maybe the majority of your real world friends would find poos funny, and thus you’re using the tool appropriately.

    I have a mental block when it comes to thinking of things like Twitter and Facebook as ‘social media’. Perhaps it’s all the Farmville and Four-squaring, aka ‘useless information’ sharing. I only want to apply the term to things that are useful and informative in some way, much like I wouldn’t use “Television Media” to describe the latest episode of Gossip Girl. But I’m getting far afield.

    As to how to curb this behavior? Start linking all of their toilet-based updates to their LinkedIn profile.

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

      Sociopaths. That’s what I’m going to start calling my fans.

      If only I could post from other people’s LinkedIn accounts. That would solve everything.

  2. Brianne January 20, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    “The problem, I think, lies in that some people use ‘social media’ for ‘social marketing’, and some people use them for ‘socializing’. Or being ‘sociopaths’.” <-Great sentence, Brad.

    I chalk it up to our belief that we are special and we need to be heard so let's broadcast things that no one in their right mind would really want to know about…like toilet pics.

    Otherwise, Brad is spot on. Not everyone is a social media strategist/marketer. Some people just use Twitter/FB/insert-other-social-media-platform-here to keep in touch with friends, overshare, and feel like their voice matters. There's always an audience and maybe they've found theirs and you're actually the outlier in that equation, who knows.

    I'm going to go tweet about my dog farting. Catch ya later.

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

      Make sure you tweet the scent of it. We have TwitPic and TwitVideo, why not TwitSmell?

      Where’s a developer? Someone needs to get on that.

  3. John Morrow January 20, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    I think people should ask themselves, “If I were in a public place, would I stand up on and chair and say ‘Hey everybody, listen to this’?” and if the answer is no, maybe it’s better if you just shut up.

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm #


  4. Jami Dix January 20, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    What do I cringe at? Public humiliation of a significant other…airing dirty laundry that should just be kept behind a closed door.

    I’m going to go find Brianne now so I can read about the dog farting:)

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

      So true. I once watched a break up over Twitter. It was painful as hell.

      And why does everyone like the farting dog so much?

      • Brianne January 21, 2011 at 12:29 am #

        Because it’s freaking adorable.

        Shut up cat-pic-tweeter.

  5. Lisa Sullivan January 20, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I love Brad’s first sentence as well. Totally spot on!

    The thing is, I also see your point, Jay but I caveat that by saying that mostly for me, I see your point when it comes to those that are attempting to use Social Media for marketing purposes. I cringe every single time I see someone doing that wrong and usually, if I know the business/individual/organization doing it, I will respond privately with a “quick tip” of some sort with an offer to assist them further if they wish. If I don’t know them, unless they are located in my neck of the country, I’ll usually shake my head & move on. BUT, if they happen to be nearby, I’ll offer my expertise to them as well….once. If they don’t bite, they don’t bite.

    While many of us have been in the space for the last several years, learning, growing, watching it change, staying abreast of new platforms/technologies, using the medium faithfully, there is still a large part of the population (personal & professional) that still don’t quite “get it”. That’s changing…slowly. I think the more we continue doing what we’re doing, the more our skills & expertise will be needed and the more marketable we become. There will be people asking, “can you help me?” and we’ll be able to tell them, “Glad you asked!”

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

      I think reaching out a bit is good, and I think the private message is also good. It’s a matter of use, common sense, and telling some people to stop making the internet gross.

  6. Wolfy January 20, 2011 at 10:31 am #


    You are doing it wrong. If you don’t find the same things interesting or funny as the people you’re following, then don’t follow them. You wouldn’t hang out with people who offend you, so you shouldn’t be reading their thoughts on twitter.

    I post a lot of stuff to twitter that is offensive to people. I get unfollowed all the time. And my offensive tweets get favorited and retweeted all the time. And a lot of it is potty humor. Don’t like it? Nobody cares.


    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      I knew someone would say, “I’m doing it wrong.” Totally opened myself up for that.

      I should have clarified that some of these are my more personal friends, rather than the social media wizards and warlocks.

      Still, If people did not care, they wouldn’t be taking some action.

      • Wolfy January 20, 2011 at 10:59 am #

        My response to that is that you have drinking friends and bible study friends. Twitter doesn’t really give you the opportunity to segregate the two unless you use two different accounts. Some of us don’t care to speak to the lowest common denominator.

        For my part. If twitter doesn’t make me laugh, i loose interest. If someone offends me, i unfollow them.

        That said, I take it back that you’re doing it wrong. I don’t think you can do it wrong. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna follow you.


        • Jay January 20, 2011 at 11:57 pm #


  7. Ashley Sue January 20, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Please, oh please, tell me that you completely made the toilet thing up. That is too wrong and too bad for reality, please say it isn’t real and is simply a metaphor for how feel the quality of their tweets are.


    • John Morrow January 20, 2011 at 11:02 am #

      Oh Ashley, you poor innocent thing… :)

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

      There are things I wish I could say, such as “Unicorns exist,” “The world is perfect,” and “I made the toilet thing up.” But saying those would only be fiction, and would crush people’s souls when they find out the truth.

  8. Michael LaRocca January 20, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    If someone posts a bad toilet pic, just tell ‘em to piss off.

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

      There’s a pun in here I just can’t make.

  9. Jason Eric Alexander January 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    I think a lot of what you’re describing stems from what I like to call “late bloomers”: those who arrived on the social media scene when it was well established and feel a little left behind. Or, those who are new to the medium and simply haven’t learned proper etiquette yet (believe it or not, there exists such a thing).

    • Jay January 21, 2011 at 12:05 am #

      I love this term “Late bloomers.” This is another term I’m adding to my social media dictionary.

  10. Lisa January 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Unfollow, people don’t listen in general. I get frustrated that many social media ‘experts’ are not really social people in general. Instead they posses no real people skills and in real life are quite arrogant and you avoid them in a business/networking setting. Often they also like to hear themselves talk and don’t accept feedback or let alone listen to others. Unfollow I say and find others!

    • Jay January 21, 2011 at 12:07 am #

      So true about social media professionals. I’m the most social anti-social media media professional I know. If that makes sense.

  11. Ace January 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I don’t know what’s worse: this, or the people that start posting a “viral video” that was viral six weeks ago.

    I won’t even get started on when 8 different people share the same link on my wall. I know they’re cool for thinking of me, but can’t they read my wall whatnot first?

    Okay, trying to stop the vent here. I’ve thought about responding to crap with pure sarcasm, like “I’m so glad I know this! Tell me more!” or just “Like”ing everything they put up until they realize the message.

    • Jay January 21, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      If you start ‘liking’ it, you know they’ll show up more in your feed, and then it’s just going to get worse.

      I’m also the worst about catching up with viral videos. I didn’t see “Bed Intruder” until December, and “Double Rainbow.” Thankfully, I don’t share them months later than they come out.

  12. Leslie January 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    My favorite bit of social media is anything that calls people out for irrational behavior; no matter what the topic. And when it’s followed by a deluge of bitchfest commentary - well, then that’s just a little slice of heaven, Clark.

    • Jay January 21, 2011 at 12:13 am #

      Sometimes those seem fun to watch, but I’ve been apart of them, and they aren’t fun to be the inside of, especially if it’s public.

      We have VH1 reality TV for that kind of thing.

  13. Dino Dogan January 20, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    ahhh…sooo..where is this photo of a public toilet after it was used? :-p

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

      Do you really want to see that (literal) shit?

  14. Morgan January 20, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Some people just need constant attention and they know if they do something outrageous like that, they’ll get attention. Whether it be good attention or not, they don’t care, they just need to be heard!

    I would unfollow. If you don’t like, why put up with it? :)

    • Jay January 20, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

      So true. Some of us just like to be outrageous, like myself.

      I put up with it because I’m too nice. Or at least, too nice to people I meet in real life.

  15. Shane January 20, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    Hi Jay,

    Its alway better to tell the ‘toilet pic’ person that their photograaphy isn’t tasteful - if it doesn’t work then unfollow. I see no reason why you would tolerate having poop in your twitter stream :) - you don’t take it in real life so why take it online? I guess what I’m trying to say is use the same rule of thumb you do offline - you’d hang up or wakl away from someone offensive, so do the same online.



    • Jay January 21, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      Good point. If someone showed me that in the real world, I’d probably not speak to them for months. I’d also use a LOT of hand sanitizer.

  16. John Morrow January 21, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    Part of the problem is that some social media tools are trying to serve multiple niches. At the same time as “professional” social media ninjas are swarming all over Twitter to draw attention to their blogs or company services, it is also full of celebrity idiots tweeting to draw attention to themselves and 14 year olds tweeting shit (literally and figuratively).

    It’s as though you had a TV channel simultaneously spewing commercials, celebrity endorsements and Sponge Bob Squarepants into your home every day.

  17. Chris January 21, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    I get a kick out of it every time I read an opinion blog complaining about too much garbage on Twitter. Have you ever seen a large flock of birds, tweeting on a wire? Do you really think their all discussing how to better market themselves? Twitter is just that. A bunch of nonsense. The fact that businesses have flocked to it is only because they can. Twitter SHOULD be about the dog farting. If it was all businesses and social media guru’s promoting their blog, no one would go to twitter. You need the garbage, to make the goods stand up. Your $200 Diesel Jeans don’t look like $200 jeans unless you put them in a sea of $15.00 Walmart jeans. I thank the masses every day. If I didn’t have a friend facebook complaining about the cable guy being late, or about how they hate to shovel, I might have to listen to them in person. I’d much rather listen to them TALK real stuff, and let them TWEET the junk, rather than the other way around.

  18. Leslie January 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    The problem, I think, lies in that some people use ‘social media’ for ‘social marketing’, and some people use them for ‘socializing’. Or being ‘sociopaths’.

    Love that line, Brad.

    I have a friend who tweets about bodily functions on FB, Twitter AND LinkedIn. Ewww!