Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Primer on Not Offending Anyone on Social Media Ever

Something that I was completely naive about before social media entered my life is how very much there is to be offended by in the world. It turns out that I'd been missing out on so many first-rate opportunities to be displeased or disgruntled, I almost want to do over my life. I've learned that even seemingly innocuous topics have dark and potentially scarring underbellies. With this new awareness, it can be difficult to know what to share that won’t upset the people who see it. Last week, for example, I shared a seemingly anodyne link to a video of some unbelievably cute baby sloths - who could find something wrong with that? - forgetting that there is always, always something to fret about. I was informed that videos like this are worrisome, potentially helping to fuel a new exotic pet trade of sloths. I realize that the intention is good; the person was expressing a legitimate concern. The fact is, though, that there is very little one can post today that is considerate of every unique sensitivity, concern, or bone of contention of each individual who might encounter it. Thus I have decided to create a list of all those things I will no longer share so as to best avoid offending or upsetting anyone. I hope this also helps others to create the most unoffensive and controversy-free posts as we venture bravely forth in social media. Onward!

1. I will post no more photos of pretty landscapes. What if someone is allergic to grass, trees, or sunlight, or is scared of the outdoors due to an insect phobia and has become a virtual shut-in? What if someone who works in an office sees the photo and decides that he hates being inside all day so he quits his job and then his whole family becomes destitute and homeless with his kids ending up in the foster care system? He would be justified in blaming me for breaking up his family by sharing a photo of a pretty landscape. 

2. I will post no more vegan food photos with anything potentially controversial in it because it might offend someone who has a dislike for that food, an allergy to it or simply is counter to that person’s dietary beliefs. I have learned that cilantro, eggplant, okra, mushrooms, soy, wheat, grains, oil, chocolate, sugar, and salt are among the problematic items, and not including enough greens in each food photo is also grounds for offending viewers. Nightshades, cooked foods, and anything that isn’t macrobiotic must also be barred so as to be the most inclusive possible. I will also no longer include images of plates, bowls, or cutlery to be more sensitive to those who have had to sell all their plates, bowls, and cutlery to pay their rent. I need to be more considerate of every variable that may have ever occurred in anyone’s life. 

3. Anything that’s funny, serious, uplifting, or neutral must be treated with the utmost care and consideration before posting, and ideally should be vetted first before a diverse counsel of advisers.

4. I will post no more cute photos or videos with puppies and/or kittens. Baby animals drive the breeding market. I should only share videos with adult dogs and cats because they are harder to adopt.

5. I will post no more cute photos or videos with adult dogs and/or cats. What if a cat scratched someone’s arm and it got infected and that person had to have it amputated or someone’s parents gave away her dog when she was a child and she has so many unresolved feelings around that? Also, what if someone who sees the image lives in an apartment where no companion animals are allowed and that person desperately wants a dog or a cat? It would make them feel sad and that would be all my fault.

6. I will not post anything about my son, a.k.a, the resource-swallowing, first world, arrogant, consuming machine who is the end result of my stubborn selfishness and vanity. Domestic and international adoption is also a risky topic. As is not having children. Let’s just pretend that children never existed, okay? 

7. I need to be more mindful of seemingly innocuous stories that might potentially trigger someone, for example, that recent trip to the grocery store: What if someone reading it was rear-ended in the parking lot last week while grocery shopping and I reactivated up his PTSD? What if the person seeing it tried a sample of watermelon at the grocery store and got food poisoning and was sick for three days and had to miss her son’s graduation? What if someone can’t reach the highest shelf and so the grocery store is a disempowering and frustrating experience for her? What someone who sees it ran into his daughter’s homeroom teacher at the grocery store recently and was coming from Hot Yoga so he looked and smelled kind of gross and my story reminded him of how he felt embarrassed, sending him off into a shame spiral? I should keep my stories to myself or tell them in person so I can monitor the emotional response of those around me with the utmost care.

8. I won’t post anything with videos, images, or text that might offend anyone. I also won’t post anything trivial that might seem superficial. I will walk that razor’s edge between being too intense and too mild and I will succeed in finding a squishy, semi-sweet middle that nearly everyone can agree is only mildly offensive or boring. 

9. Some of my omnivorous friends will be offended by my vegan posts because they will think that I am judging them. Some herbivorous friends will be offended by my vegan posts, depending on whether they are deemed too extreme or not radical enough. Sometimes the omnivores and the vegans can find common ground in rooting out the flaws of my advocacy and so there is something positive about that, I guess.

10. On that note, potentially thorny subjects I will avoid posting anything about to keep the peace include but are not limited to: civilization, history, politics, religion, atheism, family, music, books, television, movies, art, the weather, my favorite color, thrifting, the strange yellow bird I saw, gardening, my new workout, the best way to freeze ice cubes, my salad at lunch, fruit, the funny dream I had, the beach, condiments, the trip I’m planning, refrigeration, my middle name, names in general, my jade plant, and possible hiccup cures.

What’s left, you might ask? I think I can talk about the curtains my husband just hung in my office for a bit, though maybe that is offensive in case someone had a curtain rod fall on his head or someone else was awakened by the sun this morning before she was ready because she can’t afford curtains.

So, okay. I guess I’ve got nothing. 



  1. Very apropo, Marla. We all walk a fine line:(

  2. Hey! You forgot elderly dogs and cats. Oh, and Easter rabbits! What about all the baby bunnies? Oh, and about those curtains, they're not made of wool or silk are they? Or polyester because you KNOW polyester uses too much of the earth's water resources during manufacture. Oh, and cotton is owned by big corps and full of pesticides. Just sayin'


  3. I feel that invisibility is the best policy. I henceforth vow to be invisible on the net and wear invisible clothes.

  4. Mmm, now I'm trying to think of something I can make for dinner that includes nightshades, cilantro, eggplant, okra, mushrooms, soy, wheat, grains, oil, chocolate, sugar, and salt! Damn you, Marla!!

  5. best i don't comment - someone might find it offensive...

  6. I love your sense of humour, Marla. Keep doing what you're doing.

  7. Very funny! I gave up on posting anything at all after a new vegan acquaintance (and potential new friend) was offended by my non-smoking post and defriended me on FB. Nevermind the fact I have been making anti-smoking posts since 2011 and we just met in 2013. So, I chose to leave FB and become a recluse rather than to offend anyone ever again. It's working! LOL

  8. Lol....whoaaaa...i liked it a lot.:)))

  9. Totally enjoyed this blog. Guess that is what I am up for then! Time to grow a thick skin. OH no I better not mention that someone may have skin condition and now I made them want to scratch it and then they get infected and die in the hospital and their family sues me!

  10. Hahaha! So true, Jazminn. Be very careful!


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