Students Discuss the Unwritten Rules of Social Media By Danielle Abril, Amy Gordon, Anna Smith

Sophomores Liz Hinton, Sophia Richer, Anna Smith and Sarah Ball pose showing their social media accounts.

Social media has always been a tool for people to express themselves whether it be sharing favorite recipes online, expressing political beliefs, or even artsy photos that they took on their latest hike. By far, the most popular platforms at Walpole High School are Instagram and Snapchat. The surge of popularity in the use of these two apps has become another ”life,” in which students feel it is necessary to fit in by posting certain content and creating the best version of themselves.

Even though these apps are supposed to be used freely to share daily content, 87% of 82 survey respondents believe there are several unwritten rules that society pressures social media users to follow. So why do we feel that we have to follow these untold rules of social media? Even though they are only profiles with names on them, everyone feels pressured that their reputation is on the line. In reality, most people are focused perfecting their own photos and waiting the perfect time to open a snap then to pay attention to others on the platform. It’s time to treat these apps for what they are… apps, and share what you want to without worrying about what other people think.

“You can do whatever you want, it’s your app, you downloaded it, it’s your phone,” sophomore Kevin McElaney said.


Writer Danielle Abril's Instagram Profile.

Instagram is a social networking service that enables users to share photos and videos to their profile. On Instagram, each profile has followers and is following a certain number of people.

“I personally like my ratio good, meaning I like having more followers than people I’m following,” freshman Kathryn Maclean said.

She’s not alone, as 50% said that they preferred having more followers than they are following. The other 50% doesn’t think that it matters.

The main reason people use Instagram is so that they can post photos or videos, updating their followers on what is happening in their lives. It is uncommon, however, to find users that post genuine photos without filters or any editing. 74% students on the survey said that they have filtered their photos, whether it being occasionally or every time that they post. In order to increase the amount of likes that they get, users also post at a certain time when they think other users will be on the app.

Student searches for a profile on Instagram.

“6:00 at night… everyone’s just on their phone just chilling checking out their phone,” said junior Chris Reilly when asked about the best time to post on Instagram. 72.8% of users on the survey agreed.

One response on the survey said “mid-afternoon or the evening because that’s when everyone is most active and you are guaranteed to get the most likes.” People who do not post at these particular times or days may receive fewer likes as there are not as many people active.

Along with when to post, users also have to be cautious about how many times they are posting in one day. Although users have to keep their accounts active, some find it annoying when they are following a person’s account that is constantly posting pictures and adding stories to Instagram.

“If you post multiple posts a day, it’s kind of weird. No one wants to see everything you’re doing,” said Reilly.

There’s also a stigma concerning when you can't like someone’s photo. If a user likes it too soon or too late, it may look like they are “stalking” the person's profile. This could concern the person and potentially ruin the real-life relationship. Most people make sure not to double tap if it’s too late.

“After it hits that ‘one day ago,’” Maclean said is the latest one can like a photo. If you ever look at someone’s account and their photos, it’s best to be cautious and move carefully without liking a photo. Liking a photo from ‘one day ago’ is one thing, but liking a photo from ‘two years ago’ is a whole other story.

However, a recent update to Instagram allowed a change to the order in which posts appear on the timeline or feed, which is where a user can see what others post without going directly to their page. Rather than being in order of most recently posted, posts now are in order based on popularity. This does make it difficult to keep up with the app’s timeline, which is why it has become more flexible on the time frame that people are given to like a post before it being weird.

Another aspect of Instagram are “Finstas” which is a fake Instagram. This is an account in which many people, but mostly girls, use to break the unwritten rules. These accounts are given a username that is typically a play on words using either their first or last name and something they are interested in. Also, they can be nicknames. Many people post funny videos, Instagram story polls, humourous content, and much more.


Writer Danielle Abril's Snapchat Profile

In 2011, Snapchat was initially released as an app for people to send pictures to one another, where the picture could quickly disappear after being sent. Users alike have come up with terms for referencing certain actions one makes on the app. Opening “snaps”— or the pictures a friend sent you— can be debated on when it is appropriate to open the picture immediately.

“I always open right away, because I don’t really care what people think,” said Reilly.

Opposed to Reilly, some users care whether A “friend” who is not as close to a user opens a snap right after it was sent. This immediate action can be perceived as creepy to a sender; it makes it seem as though this “friend” was waiting just for their picture.

A similar popular feature of Snapchat includes the “chat” section. The chat is similar to a text message column; however, the chat disappears just like the pictures do. A user can see whether their “friend” has opened the chat and when this friend leaves the message unresponded, it is commonly referred to as “ghosting.”

“[ghosting] is definitely an offensive thing,” Maclean said. “Sometimes you think you have a connection with someone, and that’s sort of an indication that they don’t have the same feelings as you.” \

Whether a user intends to or not, “ghosting” can be offensive to the receiver of a chat, and it is one action people believe it is wrong to do.

In group chats or with individual chats with your close friends, funny pictures that are sent can be screenshotted for birthday shoutouts and future reference. Unless this action is done by a close friend, the action may be shady to the sender.

“Screenshotting is when you take a picture of what’s on your screen and I think it’s only ok if the person you’re screenshotting says it’s ok, or if it's one of your friends,” said sophomore Kevin McElaney.

Student looks at her chats.

In addition to chatting, when the feature stories have many pictures or extremely long videos these can also be frustrating for users.

"People who put entire concerts on their stories are going to hell," sophomore Srihas Dama said.

And he is not alone. 92.8% of our survey agree they can get irritated at the overuse of this feature. Users have to be cautious that they do not annoy their friends and family with this, even though they may be excited to share.

With snapping, many people send pictures daily to keep up “streaks.” Streaks are just another way to keep in touch with every snapper. Although some people enjoy keeping in constant contact with their “friends,” opening daily as many as forty unanswered Snapchats can become an annoying task.

“Snapchat streaks feel like a chore,” one respondent said.

Despite this annoying daily routine of streaks agitate people, 77.1% of respondents still continue their streaks to keep their status alive on Snapchat.

Even though these features were added to increase the pleasure of the app, frustration was an unintended consequence of some. As a result, there is less freedom with using it, and more rules to make your profile better.


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