Beware these 5 social media traps

Sep 20, 2015 at 8:29 p.m. ET
Image: Ondine32/Getty Images

It is everywhere — readily available at our fingertips, and showing no signs of slowing down. It is here to stay. I'm talking about social media... and how it is affecting us.

I love the networking and business aspects of social media... but, as with anything, it has its pros and cons. Ask yourself if you find yourself falling into any — or more than one — of these social media pitfalls.

1. If we don't post it, it didn't really happen

People seem to have this notion that if we don't post our every move on social media, it didn't happen. We see it all the time: folks posting photos of all — and I do mean all — of their meals, every waking moment of their lives or even their church's sermon on a Sunday morning. Really? Just because you don't post every single detail of your life does not mean it's not happening.

I get it. You're posting to your own pages, and if people don't like it, they can unfollow. Remember, though, that half the people who follow you are your associates, and the other half probably don't care. OK, a handful of people maybe do care. But isn't there is a fine line between being transparent and oversharing? Overdose can be exhausting for some audiences, and pretty soon they'll be rolling their eyes and clicking past your posts.

2. Letting moments happen behind a lens instead of living our moments

As a photographer who has shot several weddings, I've noticed nearly every guest has had an iPad or iPhone out, recording and snapping photos throughout the entire event.

I wonder: Are they even present and in the moment to listen to the vows and enjoy the emotions of the day? Sure, people are going to want to take their own photos to document their experience at the event, but it is OK to unplug at some point to mingle, have some cocktails, enjoy the crab cakes and get out on the dance floor!

More couples are embracing "unplugged" weddings lately (no cell phone photos during the ceremony), so guests will be completely engaged for the vows exchange.

Some couples may not want their wedding images plastered all over the web without giving the final nod. You know how you untag yourselves in the less-than-flattering pictures your friends post all over the web? Well, this is something like that.

Then again, some couples may not mind at all! Something I absolutely love is wedding hashtags. Brides and grooms can create their own wedding hashtags (i.e., #TheDoeWedding) their guests can attach to online posts. Later, friends can click through the images and experiences from their event via social media. How cool is that?

More: What happens when you take away people's smartphones?

3. Becoming desensitized to tragedy

With so much negativity going on in the news lately, the norm has become to press record, express our views on social media and share stories at the click of a button. To be honest, I find things out quicker on social media; Twitter seems to spread the word faster than CNN these days (no shade). I've always said that you find out exactly where the hearts and minds of your friends/associates stand in the face of tragedy via social media. How many people have you had to unfollow due to their rantings on the Internet?

Are seeing tragic images and hearing these heartbreaking stories desensitizing us? Does anything shock us anymore? Recently, a man live-streamed himself murdering his ex-colleagues on social media. Even if you tried to avoid seeing those videos and images, they kept recirculating all over timelines (autoplay is the devil). I believe social media is mainly used for good and to connect. I hate that it can be used for evil and hate and cyberbullying.

More: Step away from the smartphone: It could be making you moody

4. Trying to keep up with the Joneses

It is easy to get caught up in what everyone is doing via social media and assuming that their lives are all glitz and glam, red-soled shoes and cocktails. The truth of the matter is this: You don't know their lives. You only know the parts of their lives they choose to show you — and even then, it's hard to decipher authenticity through online photos.

Of course, people are going to want to showcase their best selves. Don't envy someone else's life, relationship or success, because you really don't know the nuts and bolts of it or what it took to get them there. Keeping up with the Joneses will leave you confused, depressed and broke. Keep up with you.

5. Violating special relationships that should remain sacred

Everything is not for everybody. Everything is not for everybody. And everything is not for everybody.

We do not need to know you got into an argument with your boo last night. I am a strong believer that marriages and relationships should be protected. Everyone does not need to be in your business, nor does everyone have your best interests at heart. Take your relationship issues to the person in the relationship.

Don't air your dirty laundry on social media! If you need to vent, talk to a trusted friend or family member.

6. Giving out too much information on social media

I cannot stress this enough. Stop giving away too much on social media! I've heard stories where people have posted they were going out of town with specifics (such as departure date, how long they would be gone, where they were going), only to come back to find that their unoccupied homes had been robbed. Be smart about what you share and which details you reveal. Set those privacy settings as well! Not everyone is privy to a peek into your personal life.