Modern technology is a life-enhancing thing. It's also potentially a huge pain in the digital derriere. Witness MP and former frontbencher Lucy Powell's grovelling apology after mistakenly sending an angry WhatsApp message - with copious swearing and criticism of fellow Labour MPs as "ludicrous" - to a group including those very colleagues. Oops.

Tweet-happy President Trump and his team are also prone to social media faux pas, whether failing to spell-check "unpresidented", or agreeing with articles on satirical news site The Onion without realising they're spoofs.

Meanwhile, crooner James Blunt, author J.K. Rowling and footballer Wayne Rooney have been hailed for their witty taming of Twitter trolls.

It's such a minefield that style bible Vogue has been moved to publish a "modern girl's guide to social media etiquette". However, this mainly revolves around self-promotion and the dreaded "selfie", so here are our own 10 commandments for midlifers trying to navigate social media ...


Thou shalt not become a food bore

Posting occasional photos of your impressive slow-cooked stew or Bake Off-worthy cake on Facebook or Instagram is fine, if a tad show-offy, especially if you've "accidentally" edged a Wusthof knife or Le Creuset dish into shot.

Tedious conversations with your partner about what you're having for supper should be restricted to texts, where nobody else can see you've got "a glut of aubergines that need using up".

Thou shalt not get into political arguments

Express an opinion about Trump and words like "fascist" will be flung around. Venture your Brexit views and before you know it, everyone's calling each other "Remoaners" and "racists". You'll never win, it could turn nasty and to the casual observer, you come over as an over-opinionated loon.

Thou shalt not be a humblebragger

Attempting to self-deprecatingly undercut your smug trip to the opera with "Thought we'd get off the sofa and swap the box set for something more highbrow lol" doesn't work. We know full well you're still boasting.

Don't even get us started on the running and cycling brigade.

Thou shalt double-check the recipient list

The equivalent of accidentally hitting "reply all" on an email. So when you're date-wrangling over a villa-sharing holiday, confirm who's on the "to" list before you unintentionally slate someone's husband in public for being an "officious idiot".

Thou shalt use hashtags and emojis sparingly

You're not 12.

Wayne Rooney has been praised for his ability to wittily shoot down Twitter trolls. Photo / AP
Wayne Rooney has been praised for his ability to wittily shoot down Twitter trolls. Photo / AP

Thou shalt beware of cut-and-paste

That way, you will avoid an Ed Balls snafu. When he was shadow chancellor and wanted to see what was being said about him on Twitter, he typed his name into the "compose" box instead of the "search" one, so accidentally sent out his own name.


This Luddite bungle is still celebrated on "Ed Balls Day" every April 28 and it has taken a stint on Strictly to restore his reputation.

A similar butterfingered bungle was recently made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who accidentally tweeted "n9y25ah7", which is almost certainly his password to something important.

Thou shalt not use social media for family domestics

Sniping at your spouse on Twitter ("Busy, are we?") or making subtle digs about your children being "too busy gallivanting to visit" on Facebook isn't a good look. It's also what talking on the telephone is for. Remember that?

Thou shalt not use social media as a search engine

Can anyone recommend a good hotel or tradesman? Is the train strike still on? What's the weather going to be like this weekend? Google it.

Thou shalt not be a whingebag

Cryptic posts of the "Some people aren't worthy of a place in your heart" variety. Moans about failed parcel deliveries. Rants about other drivers cutting you up or shoddy customer service at Ikea ... Save them for friends and family, rather than inflicting it on distant acquaintances who'll just think you're Victor Meldrew.

Thou shalt put thy phone down

We've all rolled our eyes at the party guest tapping away to strangers while ignoring those actually in the room. Be present, be polite and put the pesky mobile away.