As Facebook continues to grow and morph into the monster that it’s becoming (Read: Facebook baby announcements!), we as a society must come together to make new rules for interaction. Here are 7 important questions about Facebook etiquette that we need immediate answers to.
Photo credit: English106, Flickr
Situation: Yes, we were acquaintances in high school or college. Maybe we even made tender love by the fireplace (or, more likely, a passed out frat guy’s tribal tattoo that he thinks means “Fire” in Cherokee). But I haven’t seen you in six years. So is it cool that I’m still vigorously checking your Facebook albums for new bikini photos? At what point is it kind of creepy?
We can presume I have pants on all for both of the above circumstances though, obviously, no promises.
Mr. Manners Says: You can look at the photos lustily after a breakup only when you’re in a “wondering could have been” phase. Otherwise, you can only look during daytime hours, fully clothed, in a very passive way (i.e. at least five other non-bikini-photo tabs open). And don’t click “like” on ANY of the pictures, for the love of God.
Situation: Everyone’s Facebook is regularly filled with shared photos of quotes like “Friendship is built on alcohol, inappropriateness, and randomly blowing strangers” or whatever. People share them, tagging every single person that they’ve ever had a wine cooler with.
Some people even go to sites dedicated to providing them with a “witty” or insightful text-based Facebook status that they can claim as their own. It’s like the shitty Hallmark card social media was destined to be.
Mr. Manners Says: As far as homogenized, monolith, all-encompassing, publicly traded companies go, Facebook is all about reflecting who you are as an individual! And let’s be honest, you’re not an individual. So share that picture and move along.
But if you’re going to a site attempting to find a stock Facebook status in an attempt to look interesting or witty, the best thing to do is probably to die an ancient samurai’s death for the good of society. When Facebook turns us all into the Borg, I really don’t want your “I slept like a baby last night…I spent three hours crying for food!” status to be a part of our collective consciousness. Thanks.
Etiquette: When you’re building a career for yourself in any creative field -- be it stand-up comedy, music, whatever -- your friends and associates are important to getting things off the ground. But the line between “looking for support” and “kind of obnoxious” can be quickly blurred when other people’s newsfeeds become a diary of your ongoing or impending mediocrity.
Mr. Manners Says: When in doubt, undershare. Maybe you are the next Chris Rock or Justin Bieber (and lord knows we absolutely need another one, amirite ladies?). But odds are that you’re at least annoying people when you share too much of your “work” and the relevant page invites. At worst, you’re embarrassing yourself so much so that your common friends talk about you at social gatherings, either in disgust or with vigorous mocking and occasional viewings of your videos in which everyone laughs and does impressions of you. Then they casually reference your “art” after the fact as a punchline to any possible joke.
Um, I’m speaking hypothetically, of course. Point being: Tread lightly.
Situation: Good question, me. Ideally, you’d never want to be friends with someone who’s such a drama whore that they broadcast their personal problems on Facebook. But, in particular with the older demographics who are terrible at reading into Internet subtext, problems can flare up seemingly out of nowhere leading to a bevy (a BEVY, I tell you) of passive aggressive social media remarks.
Mr. Manners Says: If it’s a close friend, a text saying “Are you seriously arguing on Facebook right now?” will suffice. If it’s an acquaintance, feel free to defriend or hide. If it’s someone you met once at a work mixer three jobs ago, click ‘like’ on every awkward comment, then screencap it and send it to us for This Week in Facebook Idiocy. Bingo bango, just like that the world is a better place.
Situation: You’re having your first child. Friends have had children, your parents had children (poorly), so you just feel like your social world needs to know about the thing ripping through your relationship’s genitals.
Mr. Manners Says: With an engagement, people post a couple pictures or a video, change their relationship status, done. But for whatever reason, how to broach the idea of a pregnancy seems to be completely wild and occasionally annoying.
Let’s be clear: You don’t have to “announce” your pregnancy on Facebook. It’s not a huge ceremony or something. But it’s a part of your life, so share it slightly more enthusiastically than you would information about a great hot dog you just ate. The little baby sonogram photo is cool. Maybe throw in a joke about the size of the sonogram’s genitalia if you want an easy laugh (presuming it’s a boy…if it’s a girl, that might be weird). But that’s about it. We don’t need weekly updates on the size of the baby with a chalkboard drawing of the corresponding size fruit or vegetable.
This seems to be counterintuitive to most people, but you can also talk about things other than the baby. Crazy, right? Like you don’t have to go, “It’s raining today! Junior kicked so I bet he also hates the rain as much as me lol.” No. Junior doesn’t hate the rain. He’s kicking because he desperately wants to escape from your uterine prison. His prenatal Livejournal says so.
Situation: Your friend just had some traumatic life event. They seek refuge on Facebook because they’re developmentally disabled, announcing their heartache to the world. Pop quiz hot shot! What do you do? What do you doooo?
Mr. Manners Says: You DO NOT “like” the status. UNLESS it’s a really close friend and you mocking their pain will be a point of amusement for both of you. But otherwise, a comment of solidarity if you like the person or moving on with a head shake of mild concern and mostly indifference will suffice. More often than not, people aren’t posting these self-serving statuses for you; they’re posting them to get something off their chest.
Plus, depending upon the level of dramatics the Facebook user in question typically has, the status might find itself deleted in an hour anyway. Keep an eye on the status for car wreck potential.
Situation: You or someone you know is breaking up on Facebook. This is a moment in time where everything is naked and broadcast to the world. You worry about coming off as a failure to your Facebook friends, you don’t want to answer questions ORRR you want the attention and want to plant a flag going, “HELLO WORLD, THESE GENITALS ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS” with many exclamation points.
Mr. Manners Says: There are a lot of tangential points to address here, so let’s look at this with two buckets like Goofus and Gallant from Highlights Magazine.
Gallant breaks up with his girlfriend and changes his status from “In a Relationship” to the “empty relationship status.” He wants time to heal and doesn’t want things to be dramatic.
Goofus breaks up with his girlfriend, changes his status to “Single” and posts a status saying he’s “back on the block and ready to wreck bitches.” Note: This probably wouldn’t be printable in Highlights.
Gallant sees a girl he likes has broken up with her boyfriend on Facebook. He doesn’t want to be too pushy about it, so he waits a month, makes a quick mention of how he noticed she was single, and asks if maybe she’d like to grab a drink.
Goofus “likes” the girl’s relationship status, grabs her number off her profile, and texts her two pictures of his penis; one of which features a miniature sombrero that does not appear to normally be sold in stores.
Gallant doesn’t put “In a Relationship” on his profile again until he’s in a rocksteady relationship. If he gets back with the same girl, he doesn’t change his status until they’re engaged or married.
Goofus dates girls for three days and immediately is “In a Relationship” with them on Facebook. He continues utilizing his penis sombrero in pictures to other women.
I want more like this!
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