Social media during a pandemic: read the room

Art+by+Annemarie+Mullet

Art by Annemarie Mullet

Annemarie Mullet, Staff Writer

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Though we may try to pretend we don’t, most of us enjoy the attention we get from our social media posts. Some of us even obsess over the amount of likes and comments we receive. 

But, since the pandemic, there has been a large stamp of stigma mixed in with posting on social media. Posting pictures without masks, or pictures in exotic places or on any type of vacation, comes along with a few glares and maybe some passive aggressive comments. 

So this comes down to one question: what is appropriate to post on social media during a pandemic? 

A term that I’ve heard many people toss around about what to post during the pandemic is “read the room.” This phrase is a great way to look at what to post during a pandemic. As the case numbers shift and vary, reading the environment on social media is very helpful in knowing what to post. 

For example, right now in Yamhill County, we are in a high risk red zone. One can “read the room” and see that they probably shouldn’t be posting pictures out with their friends with no masks on, as people will judge them for it, and it encourages unsafe behavior. 

But in fall semester, when we were back in the blissful joy of phase three and some indoor dining was open, it may have been okay to post without masks, as the risk was low. So, back then, one could “read the room” and see that it may have been okay to post photos with friends without masks.

Bottomline is, if you want to post something on social media, don’t be ignorant. Look around on the app and see if anyone else is posting something similar to what you want to post. If you find that a maskless picture with a group of people is not trending on social media at the current moment—chances are it isn’t—then don’t post it.

We’ve all seen the photos of people in big groups without masks on, or photos of people on a vacation they definitely shouldn’t be on.

What we may enjoy seeing and don’t place as much judgement towards is seeing photos of people building community together virtually, or photos of people doing fun, pandemic-safe activities. We may place less judgement on seeing photos of people being aware and proactive, instead of being ignorant and unadaptive.

The pandemic is teaching people of all ages about social media etiquette. Sure, we knew that there were things you could and couldn’t say, but now the lines of “rules” are much more blurred.

We must be aware if we want to get through this pandemic without losing friends or angering family members. Don’t let your ignorant social media post be the thing that loses you a friend or estranges you from your family.