After pinpointing Montana as the source of a glut of unnecessary snow photos that choked social media feeds and slowed download speeds, social media services approached state leaders in November to request that emergency measures be taken.
On Monday, a panel representing Montana’s small business, manufacturing, communications and agricultural communities convened to examine the problem and develop guidelines that may help to streamline snow photo postings.
“This didn’t used to be much of a problem,” a representative of the ranching community commented during a break from the intense and sometimes heated discussion, “Folks used to be too busy shoveling their way to the cow shed to take any pictures.”
By cross-referencing weather data and internet use reports, experts discovered that the majority of the posts were originating from newcomers to the state, which was no surprise.
“It’s understandable that new Montana residents want to prove their badass prowess to out of state friends by posting frequent photos of snow,” explained one panel participant, “and since they have no frame of reference for what is actually photo-worthy, they post every damn flake they see.”
The problem is compounded by positive reinforcement, he theorized: “It’s not unlike when a newly potty trained child wants to exhibit the proof of their new skill to passers by. Nobody really wants to see it, but we express polite approval because they are so excited about it.”
“However, that kind of reinforcement isn’t productive when it comes to snow posts,” he added. “If they get 15 likes on that picture of four snowflakes on their windshield, it’s just going to encourage them, and that’s the kind of cycle that we want to avoid.”
The panelists agreed that there are some conditions under which photos of snow may be interesting or relevant, such as in cases where there is really a lot of snow, or when a cute pet or unique snowman is pictured. Their goal was not to banish all snow photos, but to come up with an equitable way of limiting snow posts and discouraging mass hysteria on Facebook every time we get a spit of precipitation.
Taking into consideration the right of all members of society to express themselves, the panel wrote a 200-page report and a list of recommendations including the following list of preferred, tolerated and discouraged snow posts:
Preferred (48″ or more)
- Photos of lumps where your car, house or patio furniture once were
- Photos of the tunnel to your chicken house
- Photos of your 90-year-old mother attempting to shovel out her car
Tolerated (18″ or more)
- Photos of your adorable dog with snow on his nose
- Photos of your child in the midst of a non-life-threatening sledding accident
- Photos of anatomically correct or otherwise amusing snowmen
- Photos of your dead garden (May-Aug. only)
- Schadenfreude-inspired photos of snow on your neighbor’s bike, hammock or open convertible (May-Aug.)
- Any post with less than 18″ of snow and/or a caption including “Snow!” “Montana!” or “:)”
- Unattractive pets or children, regardless of snow depth
A dispensation in the guidelines was made for ski bums, who are widely known to have little control over their social media actions and other bodily functions.
A special ban was placed on efforts by news providers to stir up social engagement with lame posts like “Let’s see the snow in your area.”