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In the age of Covid, here’s how to be more sensitive on social media

Jaymi Butler

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The Pinellas County School Board unanimously voted to sue social media companies for causing student mental health and behavioral problems. File photo.

For many of us, sharing photos of family vacations and holiday get-togethers on social media has become second nature. After all, if you don’t post it, did it really even happen?

But in the era of Covid-19 when we’re being encouraged to social distance, wear masks and stay close to home, pictures of people gathering in close proximity to others or going on out-of-town trips may be getting closer scrutiny. While some may enjoy seeing these types of photos as reminders of what life was like pre-pandemic, others may view them as insensitive, in poor taste or even dangerous. 

Faithe Estes

Faithe Estes

In a recent interview with the Catalyst, Faithe Estes, an account supervisor with public relations firm Tucker/Hall who works with clients across multiple industries, shared her tips on how to find the delicate balance between sharing the things that are important to us online while remaining mindful of how they might be perceived.

  • Adhere to Covid-safe procedures: We all need to have a little fun right now, Estes said, and seeing people enjoying themselves can be inspirational and hopeful in a sea of nonstop negativity. You’ll just want to think about modeling safe behavior – something you should be doing anyway. “If you take a picture, try to be outside and follow the six feet of social distancing protocol or wear a mask,” Estes advised. Also, pay attention to the angle of the photo. Sometimes appearances can be deceiving and people look like they’re right next to each other even when they’re not. 
  • Don’t be afraid to add a disclaimer to your post: If you’re sharing an image of a group of people where those protocols might be broken, add an explanation. A quick “we are family members living in the same household,” or “we are quarantining together” disclaimer can help head off any confusion.
  • Think about your goals for your post and your audience: This is a must, Estes said, pandemic or not. Are you trying to educate people? Share a pretty picture? Show that you’re having a good time? These are all legitimate reasons why people post on social media, but take an extra few minutes to think about what your followers might think. Someone who has an autoimmune disorder and hasn’t left home in a month might be angry if they see you out having a good time. Estes suggested using filters that allow you to only share your posts with certain groups of people, a step that could help avoid hurting anyone’s feelings unnecessarily.
  • If you get negative feedback, take it down, then reach out: “It’s not worth it” to leave critical responses to your posts out there for everyone to see, Estes said. However, if someone does leave a nasty comment, she encourages reaching out to them so they can share their feelings. “That will show that you’re being considerate and taking their concerns seriously,” she said, adding that it might also help you make different decisions on future posts. 
  • Sometimes, less is more: If you’re spending time with extended family over the holidays, post a picture with only one other person rather than the entire group.
  • When in doubt, don’t post: The opportunity to share photos will be around well after the pandemic is over. Right now, a little sensitivity can go a long way.
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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Jeanette Bulatowicz

    December 3, 2020at5:54 pm

    We’re all a little sensitive now, thanks for the reminder🕵️

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