Proper Online Photo Sharing

So you have a photo or video you think is hilarious and perfect for posting online. But have you really considered how it will affect the person in the photo? Follow Modern Manners Guy’s 3 tips for proper online sharing.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #227

Without fail, almost weekly, I go on Facebook and see posted on my news feed a message that says, "You have got to see this!" So I click to open the image and realize that it's a family photo someone posted of me in a time when I didn’t look my best. This happens to all of us. And much of the time, as soon as we see the picture, we immediately wish the person would have thought twice before posting the embarrassing image for the world to see.

I know what you're thinking: That funny video of Grandma slipping off her chair? Hilarious, let's post it. The picture you took of your spouse in an unflattering bathing suit? Sure, go right ahead. Or better yet, the drunken shot of your cousin passed out at a New Year's party, seconds away from urinating himself. Priceless.

However humorous you may find a photo, you have to be prepared for what will happen after it goes live to the world. So before you click "upload," check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for posting videos and photos online:

Tip #1: Your Funny Kids

The other day my 4-year-old daughter spent nearly 45 minutes spilling her heart out to me about her "boyfriend" at school who no longer wanted to marry her. I know, so sad, right?! I didn't think I'd have to worry about having this kind of conversation for many, many years. Nonetheless, my poor little girl's heart was broken after the "love of her life" did not want to play wedding on the playground, which as it turns out, is toddler code for "I'm just not that into you."

As I sat there being a good dad and giving the old "there are more fish in the sea” talk, I couldn't help but laugh the entire time. Need I remind you she is 4? Not 24, not 34. So yes, it was hilarious. And since my wife was at dinner with friends, I figured it was my fatherly duty to record at least five minutes of it for my wife to see. Additionally, the video would be ample evidence for when I go to her boyfriend's parents and ask them why their son broke my little girl's heart into a million pieces.

How dare he want to play superheroes instead?

When my wife got home, we both watched the video and nearly cried with laughter. We also realized that this is a rare moment before her teen years when she will no longer want to share her feelings so openly with us. So having video proof of this moment is important. After watching the video, I jokingly suggested my plan to send it to the boyfriend's parents (who we are friends with). My wife (being the smarter of us two) said that it's probably not the best idea, since someone may forward it along to others and even post it online.

Mrs. Modern Manners Guy makes an excellent point. This is what happens when someone posts a photo or video without the original person agreeing to it. Next thing you know that "funny photo" (which is not at all funny to the person in it), is going viral. And it is very hard to get it down once the internet has it in its web. No pun intended…OK, a little.

When someone forwards you a photo or video, never post it online without asking the sender first. Always assume the other person will have a problem with their life being displayed for the world to see. Just because you have it in your possession, does not mean you can freely do whatever you like with it. It's improper to make light of someone else, unless they are in on the joke.

Oh, and one more thing, I'm happy to say that the next day my daughter and her boyfriend were back together. And apparently, he never said he wanted to break up. See, even in toddler land, there are two sides to every story.

Tip #2: The Photoshop Photobomb

Do you think the creators of Photoshop realized how powerful their tool would become for humiliating people? I doubt when they were coding they envisioned the end result would be some teenager turning his father into a zombie. Yes, Photoshop is used to enhance a photo – to make it nicer or nastier – but nowadays, people throw pretty much anything into Photoshop, add a funny quote, a piece of clip art, and voila – it's an instant online hit!

For some reason, people's sense of humor tends to increase with some not-so-friendly editing. Remember that photo of cousin Walter at his holiday office party doing karaoke to "It's Raining Men"? Well, now with Photoshop you can easily add in all the other Village People to complete the band. And I'm sure that's just what Walter wanted to be floating around his workplace, courtesy of his family members.

Photoshop is fun to play around with and of course it's enjoyable to use it as a gag, but that's where it should end. When you have completed your masterpiece, resist temptation to share it with the world. I say this because I promise you, no one enjoys a Photoshop-enhanced image of themselves doing something that makes them look foolish.

Trust me, they won't appreciate your sense of humor if you make them appear heavier than they are, drunker than they were, or even worse, by pasting a racist, sexist, or otherwise offensive saying above their head that they would never actually say. As I said before, once it goes viral, it's hard to stop. So next time you open a new image in Photoshop, realize that by trying to be funny, you might just close the door on a friendship.

Tip #3: The Family Flashback Photo

During Thanksgiving break, my mom brought some old childhood photos of me and my brother from Florida. For him, it's great; he's always been skinny and has had the same good haircut since the fifth grade. I, however, had what I'd like to call the Ugly Duckling phase. I don't want to go into details, but let's just say it took me several more years than planned to knock off that extra "baby fat." (It’s probably why I’m such an exercise fanatic now).

And as we're reminiscing about the good old days, my mom thought it would be fun to post some of those photos of her boys online. I loved my childhood, but the photos of me in my chunky days when I had a bigger chest than most of the girls in my class are not something I'd like to make public today.

As you dig through old photos of friends and family, looking for hidden gems to post to your social media networks, you need to take into account how this would affect the people in the pictures. Don't get me wrong, if it's an image of a group and one guy happens to have his eyes closed or isn’t smiling, that's not the end of the world. But what if that guy happens to be holding an illegal substance in his hand? Or rocking a punk-rock spiked haircut? How would the now straight-laced lawyer and father of teenagers react to those old pictures going public? Not well, I think.

Or what about a “before” photo of someone who has worked for years to get the weight off? Do you think they would appreciate you resurfacing images of their "unhappy" years? That's improper and it won’t fly. One way to avoid ruining your relationships over a silly picture is to simply crop the person out of the shot. As well, only post images or videos that you know people will not cringe over. Sure, my style back in the day wasn't the hottest, but a photo of me wearing neon green shorts, a plaid shirt, and an orange bandanna will not kill me. But I'd appreciate an email about it first.

Do you have a great story about a photo or video posting gone wrong? Tell us all the details in the comment section below or on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook page.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.