A plate of artfully arranged pasta or decadent pancakes is placed in front of you, and it looks so tasty that you want to share it with the world. Instead of reaching for your fork, you instead pull out your phone and open Instagram.
The compulsive need to photograph food, add a vintage filter, and upload it to Instagram (then cross-post it to Facebook and Twitter) is so pervasive that it's now officially a Social Media Annoyance (SMA).
Most of us (myself included) are guilty of this in one form or another. But some people just never seem to learn.
Recording every meal on Instagram is not the only social media faux pas that people regularly make. Here are the top ways to irritate and alienate most of the people on your friends list, at least for a moment. (Bonus points if you do them all on the same day to ensure your social contacts delete you en masse!)
Facebook photo tags
If you tag the backs of your friends' heads in photos on Facebook or upload old high school snapshots where everyone looks horrendous for the whole Internet to see, maybe resist that urge in the future. Receiving a Facebook photo tag notification should be a joyful occasion and not an instance of cyberterrorism.
Daily Foursquare bar check-ins are either fake or the sign of a problem
Fake Foursquare check-ins
Foursquare is useful. It tells you where your friends are if you want to meet, displays photos of places you've never been, and generally provides helpful information. But when you're passing a place without any intention of going inside, and you check in anyway only to displace someone else as "mayor" of the bar, that's just wrong. You may expose yourself if you do it too often. Being mayor of 16 different bars suggests either you're doing fake check-ins or you have a serious drinking problem.
When the Supreme Court heard a pair of gay marriage cases in March, the Human Rights Campaign encouraged Facebook users to change their profile photos to a red equality sign. No harm in showing support for a cause you believe in, but symbolic profile photos have become so common it's almost a cliché, and they really don't do much to change things. UNICEF Sweden agrees: The nonprofit launched an ad campaign this month that encourages people to donate time and money instead of Facebook likes.
Twitter encourages a stream of short, steady commentary, but there's no need to tweet every thought you have every minute of the day. Save some of them. For never.
When you integrate multiple social networks, inevitably your posts will cross over and your 10 Instagram hashtags will look strange as a Facebook post. But purposefully hashtagging a Facebook status when you know it has absolutely no meaning is silly. #micdrop
Teenagers have enough problems, so they deserve some slack. And social media is relatively new to all of us. But teens are now using Instagram (and Tumblr) to post so-called "comic strips" of self-portraits with terrible captions along the lines of:
My mom was like, clean your room!
And I was like, no way!
And she was like, you're grounded!
And I was like, whatever!
...Can't we go back to adding filters to food photos?
It's the subject of endless parody, and we've all done it. But few meals are beautiful enough to be captured for posterity. Seriously. Your Taco Tuesday haul is not worth posting.
"Keep calm and carry on," a British wartime slogan that was once inspirational, has officially lost all meaning thanks to social media saturation. In fact, inspirational quotes emblazoned on blurry backgrounds of sunsets and doves are now so trite that you feel anything but calm when they pop up in your news feed.
TMI and drama
No one expects you to present an image of sunshine and roses 100 percent of the time, but when your status updates turn into a digital version of the Ricki Lake Show, it's time to re-evaluate. The whole world doesn't need to know every detail of your cheating spouse's evil ways or how much your life sucks. Maybe save the juicy stories for your close friends, or your therapist.
If you are guilty of any of the above behaviors, congratulations! Your friends have probably hidden you from their feeds and are contemplating deleting you altogether.
But in all seriousness, when you're dashing off that 140-character missive or posting that artfully filtered photo, remember that what seems like an amazing thought or image is probably not amazing to anyone else.