These days, everybody takes selfies. We’re all concerned with how to look better in photos, and we all worry about how to take a flattering photo when no selfie stick is available. We concern ourselves with how to create a stylish Instagram account. Or, if we’re new to the social network, how to use Instagram in the first place. But one thing that social media users everywhere could stand to be more concerned about? When it is — and isn’t — appropriate to post a selfie.
It should go without saying that there are a few times and places in which it’s completely inappropriate to take and share a selfie. You shouldn’t post a selfie when you’re at a relative’s funeral, or when you’re driving, or when you’re making a joke at the expense of somebody who’s having a terrible day. But there are some other times when people who are otherwise sensible, relatively courteous individuals take and share ill-advised selfies.
Want to brush up on your selfie etiquette and make sure that you aren’t posting selfies when it’s a really bad idea to do so? Read on to check out some of the worst times and places to take a selfie. As long as you aren’t posting selfies in the following situations, your selfies will probably be a pretty innocuous addition to your social media profiles — so long as you avoid the duck face, and any pose where you’re flexing in front of your bathroom mirror.
1. When you should be paying attention to your friends
When you’re hanging out with your friends, it doesn’t hurt to snap a quick photo or two of the group or your surroundings, but you should never halt the group’s activities for more than a few seconds to take and post a selfie. If you can quickly assemble the group and take the photo, no problem. But don’t distract yourself and everybody else from the activity at hand in order to take a dozen photos, deliberate over which one is the most flattering, and then go through the lengthy process of choosing the right filter and selecting the right hashtags to post it on multiple social networks.
2. When you should be eating
Everybody has that friend who seems perfectly well-behaved through the process of ordering food at a restaurant and then waiting for their meal to arrive. But as soon as the food is on the table, they demand that everybody else at the table delay eating so that they can take a picture of the food or, even worse, capture a selfie with everybody’s food in the background. Stop annoying your friends and save the selfie-taking for when you don’t have food that’s getting cold.
3. In the middle of a workday
Unless you work in social media and have the express permission of your boss to document your work life on Instagram, you should never post a selfie from the office. Your manager and colleagues probably won’t look too kindly on what they might regard as narcissistic tendencies. And your social media followers are likely to think that you’re bragging about where you work or what you do at the office.
4. When you’re driving
If you’re old enough to have a driver’s license, we hope that you know that it’s a bad idea to use your smartphone while you’re in the driver’s seat. It’s an especially bad time to take a selfie and to worry about posting that selfie to your favorite social networks. Keep yourself and others safe and save the selfie-taking for a time and place where you aren’t operating a moving vehicle.
5. During or right after a workout
You may feel great after a grueling workout — and for good reason! But it’s not the best time to post a selfie. Sweaty skin and hair that’s plastered to your face aren’t a particularly flattering look, especially not when your phone is only a few inches from your face. It’s even worse if you’re trying to take a selfie mid-workout in the middle of the gym. Sharing that selfie may seem like a good idea at the time, but you’ll likely regret it if you do post it.
6. When you’re wearing a swimsuit
Your comfort level with posting selfies in which you’re only scantily-clad is probably dependent on your age and your body image. But if you think that your parents, your kids, or your colleagues wouldn’t want to see a photo of you in your swimsuit, then reconsider posting it.
7. When it’s too dark to get a good photo
Your hair may be perfect and your outfit may be great, but if the lighting isn’t suitable for a selfie, don’t push it. Even the most expensive smartphone has its limitations as far as low-light photography is concerned. You don’t have to have a selfie to document the fun you’re having at every single party or concert. Posting a selfie when it’s too dark to get a good photo won’t do you any favors. And really, what does it say about you if you’d rather search the bar for a good selfie-taking spot than enjoy a cocktail or converse with those around you?
8. When you’ve already posted a dozen selfies in a row
You may (correctly) assume that your followers like seeing your gorgeous face pop up in their feeds. And your face is probably pretty easy to photograph, especially if you don’t have any other brilliant ideas for your daily Instagram post. But if the last few photos that you’ve posted have been selfies, you might want to find something else to post. Seeing too many selfies can irritate your friends and followers. Can’t you find a foamy latte or a stack of records to photograph?
9. When you’re bored
If you don’t have anything interesting to post, you may be tempted to take a selfie just to add something new to your Facebook or your Instagram profile. But there is such a thing as too many selfies, and posting a selfie every time you’re bored practically guarantees that you’ll annoy your online followers very quickly. Save the selfies for when there’s actually something exciting going on, and your friends and followers are more likely to actually pay attention instead of immediately thinking it’s just another selfie.
10. When you’re making fun of someone else
We certainly hope that you’re not posting hate speech or using a selfie to share evidence of a crime that you’ve committed. But you should also avoid using selfies to do other things that are in poor taste, like making fun of other people. Don’t post selfies that were taken with the intent of offending somebody, antagonizing someone, mocking someone, or drawing negative attention to something that somebody else has done.
11. When you’re doing something that could get you fired
It’s up to you if you want to document your drinking or drug use. But it’s almost never a good idea to post a selfie that shares such activities with others. It’s a well-known fact that employers, both current and potential, aren’t above looking at your social media profiles. If a selfie could be used against you, think twice about posting it.
12. When the selfie includes somebody who wouldn’t want you to post it
If you’re taking a selfie with your best friends, your friends probably know that the image will end up on social media, and they likely don’t mind. But you shouldn’t post a selfie if somebody who wouldn’t want the photo online is included in the frame. Many people are concerned about their privacy online (and rightly so). Ask whether it’s OK to post a photo of somebody before you do, and if they refuse, comply with their requests.