Everyone uses the internet. Not everyone uses the internet well. Every day I see people doing things that make me cringe. Maybe they don't know better, maybe they don't care. Either way, I'd like to put a dent in this mess by offering some tips and advice to make the internet a better place. If you find this helpful, please share it around to get the word out.
Shoot Video in Landscape
Our eyes were built to see more left and right than up and down. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense; while we walk around, our survival depends on seeing predators on the horizon, not as much in the sky or at our feet. This is why movies are shot in widescreen format. IT'S HOW WE AS A SPECIES SEE! That's why your tv is wide, not tall. So when it comes to shooting video, follow suit and hold your phone sideways to shoot that cinematic video of your cat like God intended.
Stop Faking Depth of Field
Maybe this doesn't bother everyone, but as a photographer, it hurts to see this artificial blur added all over photos online. Depth of field mimics the way light enters our eyes. If you hold your finger close to you eye and look past it, it's blurry. When Instagram or whatever you're using adds blur, it soften things willy nilly. Not okay! It doesn't look good and it's not artsy! If you want nice depth of field, buy a real camera.
Write Efficient Emails
When writing emails, there are a few techniques you can use to make the messages concise, creating less of a need for back-and-forth. First, if you're emailing someone who you know is busy, start the email by mentioning, "I know you're a busy guy, so I'll keep this quick." This shows that your respect their time and that the email should be easy to get through. Similarly, unless it's just a personal email, there is no need for a "Hey! How are you doing? Still enjoying this lovely weather? Anyway, let me get to the point of this email..."
More important than removing fluff, though, is removing the need for as many replies. You can easily accomplish this by asking questions and including possible replies at the same time!
So instead of: "Hey, are you busy this Friday afternoon?"
You should say: "Hey, are you free this Friday at 4:30pm? I'd like to meet and talk about the new website design with you for about an hour. If you're free, let's meet a Cherry Street Cafe, otherwise, I'm free Monday at 3:00pm as well."
Limit Your Photo Album Length (including baby albums)
Yes, I know the 571 photos you took at Sasquatch were THE most amazing photos ever taken, but that doesn't mean you need to share each and every one online. Photo albums should capture the essence of an event or trip without exhausting every angle of every friend there. Try to look through that album one more time before you post it and weed out a few of the images that are nearly identical to each other. And for the last time, blurry shots of a stage with colored spotlights will never look good coming out of your phone! If you want a photo like that, search on Flickr for the event you were just at and grab it from there.
Use Hashtags Properly (if at all)
First, excessive hashtags aren't cool. They don't add value. They only make you look, well, a bit ignorant. If you want to slap a dozen adjectives onto your photo, try using words that run together to form a sentence instead. #venting #sorrynotsorry #justbeinghonest #theminimalmin #hashtags
If you really need to throw a hash in there, try to make sure it's one that's actually in use. #gohawks is a great one for Seahawks fans to come together under. A lot of tv shows have specific hashtags that help connect the fans to the show. So when used properly, they can be okay, just try to limit it to one hashtag per post.
Ask Yourself, "Does this add value?"
If everyone did this before posting something online, the world would be a much better place. I challenge you to look at your last ten posts and see if there is any value in your posts. Of course this will be subjective, but let's talk about ways to make your content valuable:
- Ask interesting questions that evoke intellectual replies
- Offer information that is helpful to others
- Update your friends on life events worth mentioning
- Be funny with your own content (not Buzzfeed's!)
- Take creative photos that aren't four girls standing in a line wearing cocktail dresses at the club
- Just be creative! Think outside the box. Entertain! Make a difference!
Nothing makes a professional email less professional than a blatant typo or grammatical misdemeanor. On social media, we often have the privilege of editing our posts, now, but still! All it takes is a few moments to skim over your draft and make adjustments. You might even want to reword a whole sentence or paragraph to better illustrate your point! A lot of times I'll just take out as many words as possible until I get the most efficient, concise sentence possible - I'll often omit words until I reach a perfectly-concise sentence. Much better :)
Pro tip: enable Undo Send in Gmail Labs to undo a sent email for about ten seconds. It's saved me a few times when I accidentally CCed the wrong people or left a few typos in there.
- Click the gear in the top right.
- Select Settings.
- Click the Labs tab.
- Find the "Undo Send" lab and select the Enable radio button.
- Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.
Treat Private Messages Like Public Messages
Email is not safe. Facebook messages are not safe. Google Hangouts/Chats are not safe. DO NOT TYPE THINGS ANYWHERE THAT YOU DON'T WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW. If someone walked up to your work computer when you step away, what could they access? All your email? You're probably logged into Facebook as well. At a past job I worked at, one of the employees went onto several of our computers and read through our personal emails. It was a breach of trust and privacy, but it showed how easily our data can be accessed. So be careful! Think before you send.
Follow The Minimal Minute
The Minimal Minute is your go-to source for becoming a decent human being. If it wasn't for this article, you would probably be posting hashtagged selfies all the live long day. But no longer! Follow The Minimal Minute on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and subscribe to weekly updates at the bottom to stay on top of the important things in life.
Condense Forwarded Emails
Ever get an email from a coworker that says, "Hey, could you take care of this?" followed by 45 threaded emails, each indented more and more? "You don't mind reading through two weeks of email conversation to find one small bit of information, right?" If your job requires a lot of email communication, please take a moment to cut out those massive chunks of useless chatter. One minute of your time could save ten minutes on the recipient's end.
Take a Proper Selfie
Before you pull out the pitchforks and torches, hear me out. People like sharing photos of themselves for others to like and comment on. That much is very clear. Unfortunately, most people aren't photographers. Even worse, most selfies are taken at arm's length with a poor quality front-facing smartphone 'camera.' This sets us up for a slew of blurry, poorly-lit photos to fill our news feeds. Not cool! So let's think of a few ways to improve this whole selfie phenomenon:
- Have a friend take your photo from 6+ feet away
- Do NOT pose, but rather interact with the world around you
- Use the rule of thirds to add flow and energy to the shot
- Try not to use flash if possible
- Shoot with a bright white wall behind the person taking the photo
Vaguebooking is the act of using Facebook to post vague, pitiful messages in the hope that someone replies with comforting sweet nothings. STOP THIS. If you are deeply saddened and must share it publicly, please go into enough detail so someone might actually be able to offer some relevant advice. Otherwise, seek help from friends directly. Or if there's some festering issue you have with someone, keep it between you and them. All this is is drama. Nobody likes drama.
Keep Political and Ethical Debates within Reason
Any post about politics or ethics is just waiting for an opposing party to offer their seemingly infallible opinion. If you post or reply about anything polarizing, please do so with respect and use logic and reason to support your ideas. Being negative or calling names convinces no one of anything. The best thing to do is pull back and look at the overarching ideas. If both parties are able to do that, you might realize that you're arguing for the same thing.
Interact with Content You Enjoy
To wrap up this guide/rant, I want to encourage all of you to interact with valuable content. If you read something you like, like it! If you have something to add, comment! If you think others can benefit from the article, share it! As annoying as it is for every blogger and YouTuber to say "Like/Share this!" it's really the only way we can spread our content. Every bit of engagement I get not only helps spread my posts, but it lets me know that people out there are getting something out of my writings. So thanks for reading and thanks for the support!