Facebook Etiquette – “The Rules”

I’ve been on Facebook for about six years now and have probably checked it most days since I first signed up to the site.  It can be great, but it can be immensely frustrating.  The most frustrating thing to me and, I’m sure, to many people, is not the constant tinkering of the way it works by Facebook itself (even though that’s bloody annoying), but by the behaviour of others.  If you have been on Facebook for more than five minutes, then I’m sure there are people you love in “real life” who have got you to the stage of nearly pulling the hair out of your own scalp by their inability to follow Facebook etiquette.  In the spirit of that, I have compiled a list of “Facebook Rules” which, if everybody follows, the social networking experience will become a whole lot easier for everybody concerned.

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  • Don’t friend request total strangers.  It’s weird.
  • Don’t “like” your own posts.  Just… don’t.
  • Try not to over-post.  Only post when you actually have something to say or want to communicate something meaningful.  A status update every five minutes will either get you de-friended or get your statuses hidden from many of your friends’ timelines.
  • Never confuse the box to search for people with the box you write your status update in.  Nothing betrays what you were on the site for more than a post simply stating your ex-partner’s name or, perhaps even worse, some kind of sexual content you’re hoping is hiding somewhere on Facebook.
  • Always reply to direct comments, posts and questions on your wall, even if it’s just to say that you don’t want to respond to it.  If you don’t do that, you’re being bloody rude.  It’s the internet equivalent of ignoring somebody in the street.
  • Try to avoid writing a “fishing” status.  You know, “I’m so ugly”, “I’m so fat”, that sort of thing.  Most people will ignore you and, more often than not, you won’t get the response you were hoping for.  If it’s an ego-boost you want, Facebook probably isn’t the best place to go.  In fact, if you have the sort of friends I have, they will most likely agree with you.
  • If you have a problem and want to discuss it with friends on Facebook, then go right ahead, but think carefully about what you may want to make public, especially if it concerns other people.
  • If you have a problem and don’t want to discuss it with friends, then for fuck’s sake, don’t post anything on Facebook!  There are very few things more annoying than somebody saying, “I’m so sad” or “I hate my life” or “I want to die” and then responding to well-meaning friends’ concern with, “I don’t want to talk about it”.  If you don’t want to talk about it, then don’t say anything in the first place!  This is especially important if you do not want to make your friends want to strangle you.
  • Never write or post anything on Facebook that you don’t want on the internet permanently.  Once you hit enter, it’s potentially out there in cyberspace forever. Future employers, future partners, future in-laws, they can all potentially read your drunken thoughts and see your ill-advised photos.
  • Don’t break personal news on Facebook.  If somebody has died, then let family know via phone, not by them randomly logging on to Facebook.  That’s insensitive and cruel.  Breaking up with somebody on Facebook?  Shameful.
  • Sharing a music video you love with friends is great.  You can introduce your friends to fantastic music via Facebook.  However, there is nothing guaranteed to get your friends’ backs up faster than posting several dozen songs one after another.  What will probably happen is that your friends will alter their settings so they don’t see any videos you post in future.
  • In fact, too much of anything is annoying.  Cat pictures, dog pictures, memes, funny photos… if you flood your timeline with lots of anything, you’re going to piss your friends off.
  • Never make the mistake of thinking “It’s only Facebook, it’s not real life”.  Lines have blurred and Facebook is now part of people’s lives.  If you do something to hurt somebody on Facebook, it’s no different to hurting them face to face. However, never end a friendship or relationship because of something said on Facebook.  Make sure you talk to them – don’t let some cross word on Facebook with somebody you care about be the last communication you have with them.
  • Don’t respond to people challenging your views with the arrogant, “It’s my Facebook page, if you don’t like it, leave it!”.  If you post anything, all of your friends can see it on their timeline.  Would you be surprised if your friends had an opinion about something you posted through their letterbox?  Same thing.  You put it out there, expect a response, good or bad.
  • If you play Facebook games, try not to send game requests to every single one of your friends.  Try to think about who may enjoy that type of game and intelligently select who you send invitations and requests to instead of selecting “all friends” as the option.
  • If you don’t play Facebook games, instead of getting annoyed and snippy with people sending you requests or invitations, simply block the application.  If one particular person keeps on sending you junk you don’t like, you can block that person from sending you any requests from applications. It’s as simple as that – you don’t have to be a dick about it.
  • Another thing that makes you look like a bit of a douche is doing pre-emptive statuses threatening to de-friend anybody who voices a certain opinion or support to a certain person, cause or political persuasion.  You’re not exactly being fair by expecting people to censor their thoughts just because you disagree with them.  In fact, it probably will make people more determined to post what they think.
  • Don’t complain about your work or employers.  That is, if you enjoy having a job and regular income.
  • For God’s sake, don’t let your under-age kids (officially, you have to be 13 to register) sign up to Facebook, unless you are completely happy that they are ready for the adult world.  No matter how much you think you can monitor your kids’ internet activity, once you let them join Facebook, you are opening the floodgates.  Facebook is only very loosely regulated and the best way to protect your children from inappropriate content is to not let them loose on a site frequented by adults posting freely.
  • Don’t tag your friends in photos if it’s particularly unflattering of them.  No matter how great you look in the photo, if your friends aren’t looking at their best, let them decide whether to tag themselves or not!
  • You know, it’s probably best not to post a picture of every single meal you eat.  We all know what food looks like.  As human beings, we’re all well acquainted with the concept of eating dinner every day.
  • Don’t post hashtags on Facebook. They’re meaningless there.  Meaningless.  Nobody cares if you have linked your account to Instagram, Twitter or any other site – it’s annoying.
  • Before you share anything you’ve seen on Facebook, check to see if it’s true.  Quite honestly, you look like a complete twat by spreading untruths, especially if it could potentially hurt somebody.  Don’t become part of an online lynch mob because, if the worst happens and something bad happens to an innocent person, blood will be on your hands.  There are some great sites, such as snopes.com, to check out chain statuses and stories which seem often too outlandish to be true.  Remember, just because you agree with the rhetoric of a chain status does not make it true.
  • Believe it or not, there are still some things that should be kept private.  Blazing arguments between couples should probably be kept off Facebook.  It makes people who know you uncomfortable.  It also makes a mockery of your relationship if you’ve called each other all the names under the sun and then next thing you’re whispering sweet cyber-nothings into each other’s virtual ears.  Keep it to yourself.  Nobody’s interested.
  • Oh, and while I’m on the subject, avoid – at all costs – constantly changing your relationship status.  It doesn’t give a very favourable impression of you or your relationship(s).  Don’t rush into anything.
  • Please learn the difference between there, their and they’re, as well as you’re and your.  If you don’t, people will probably shout at you – and rightly so.  Talking of shouting…
  • DON’T POST WITH THE CAPS LOCK ON. Nobody takes more notice of you for doing so.  In fact, everybody thinks you’re being an arrogant wanker and will stop reading what it is you’re actually writing.
  •  If you have a new baby, a few baby photos are a lovely way to share your happy news with the world. Hundreds of photos and endless status updates about how this is the most special, precious baby in the whole wide world will bore your friends rigid.  Trust me.  The same applies to a new cat or dog.  In fact, especially if it’s a new cat or dog.
  • Teenagers: don’t update your relationship status so you’re “married” to your best friend and make all of your other friends sisters and brothers.  It’s really, really fucking tedious.
  • For Christ’s sake don’t share or post ANY status which ends with “97% of people won’t post this, but my real friends will”.  Many people, at that point, will be saying “Oh, fuck off!” at their computer screen.  The rest who are far too polite to do that sort of thing will still be mildly annoyed at your attempt at emotionally blackmailing them.
  • Posting song lyrics as your status? Fine if you’re a teenager.  Otherwise… no.
  • Oh, lastly – don’t “overshare” yourself.  Music you write and perform, writing, your business, whatever it may be, it’s perfectly natural to do a bit of humble self-promotion once in a while, but be wary about how often you share your own work.  Too much and you’re guaranteeing that people will simply never click.  Unless you have an awesome ‘blog like this one, of course.

You’re welcome.

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About A.D.S.

You are reading the musings of a music-obsessed forty-something who was brought up on The Beatles, lived through Britpop and now spends his time in pursuit of the best music around. This 'blog gives me an outlet to write about the huge number of albums I buy and the many gigs I go to. All of the opinions expressed are my own and if you don't agree with me, then I understand - music is a very personal thing. I like to receive comments, especially if they're nice ones.
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2 Responses to Facebook Etiquette – “The Rules”

  1. Nic says:

    This is GENIUS. Agree w/most everything, though admit to doing 1 and 2 very occasionally. #2 because, on certain things it amuses me to do so. #1 because, I occasionally encounter someone I think I’d find interesting on a regular basis and figure, what the hell. They can always ignore it.

    Anyway, I love these, especially the “fishermen” who put status bait out there to compel the masses to praise them, and the people who post something, then get upset when a differing view is shared in a comment response. The people who complain about game requests are substantially more annoying than those who send them. It’s much faster to block the requests than to status-bitch about them.

    I wrote a similar post to this last year, but it’s nowhere near as extensive or brilliant. Still, I touched on a few additional “don’t”s, so I’ll share it with you:

    http://assortedrelevance.blogspot.com/2013/10/facebook-youre-doing-it-wrong.html

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