Student Journalist: ‘The 10 Commandments of Social Media’

In an op-ed for The Daily Titan at California State University, Fullerton, David Coats lays out what he is proclaiming to be nothing less than “The 10 Commandments of Social Media.” On spec, it seems to be geared toward all Internet users, young and old, but it’s definitely most directly aimed at the college crowd.

As Coats puts it, “Learn it, live it, love it. It will make life easier and more enjoyable for everyone.”

Along with some lighthearted admonishments (“Thou shalt not post every meal ever consumed”) and generalities (“Thou shalt consider thy audience”), he includes two meatier, more significant rules I personally consider worth sharing to the student journalist set.

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The first involves our online culture’s share-first-ask-questions-never philosophy — with a splash of Mountain Dew. According to Coats,

Thou shalt check Snopes.com before posting any news articles that seem too good to be true. No, your uncle doesn’t know a guy who found a Harley Davidson once owned by Elvis, that lady was not rescued off an island thanks to Google Maps and the average person does not swallow eight spiders per year. All of these rumors have been disproved. Also, if you do decide to post something and get called out on it, don’t get upset. You should have done your research before proclaiming to the world that drinking Mountain Dew will shrink a man’s testicles. Newsflash, it won’t.”

If you didn’t giggle at least a smidgen at that rundown, you need to readjust your summer work-life balance.

The second especially worthy social media commandment is a reminder of a great resource that in my opinion is ignored too often within collegemediatopia. As Coats commands,

Thou shalt realize that Reddit exists. Not everyone uses Reddit, and that’s perfectly fine. But all those hilarious pictures you insist on posting and tweeting more than likely originated there. Reddit is kind of like the beginning of the Internet. This means a lot of people have already seen that picture of the cat you think is just too funny not to share. Don’t take it personally when it doesn’t get liked, retweeted or favorited. It’s old news to a lot of people.”

OK, so he focuses on the sillier segments of the site, but Reddit also offers a goldmine of great story ideas and news sources. But that’s too serious for this post. As Coats orders in his final commandment, when it comes to social media, bottom line, “Thou shalt have fun.”

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