Thursday, November 18, 2010

A little lesson in Facebook etiquette

I love Facebook. For the past six years, I’ve eagerly logged onto Facebook every morning and updated myself on all of my friends’ new photos, amusing status updates, and witty correspondences with each other. I think Facebook is great… when it’s used appropriately.

Lately my enthusiasm for my favorite social networking site has dwindled. I am often annoyed, frustrated, and sometimes outright saddened by the way some of my Facebook friends are using the platform. To some, the concepts of excessiveness and censorship do not seem to exist. A handful of horrendous posts have thus inspired me to blog about tips on Facebook etiquette.

You might be thinking, “Well who the heck are you, some kind of Facebook expert?” Why yes, in fact, I sort of am. Not only am I working on a Master’s in Emerging Media and Communication (aka Master’s in Facebook), I also maintain my company’s Facebook for a living.

Expert credentials aside, I now present to you these tips on how to use Facebook appropriately and how not to make people like me sad as we scroll through our Newsfeeds.

Tip #1 – Do not abuse the status update

Your college football team is playing its biggest rival and you engage in playful banter. You have a difference of opinion about who deserved to win on a nationally televised show. You just signed up for a cool event happening in your neighborhood. You’re a really clever person and anything you say somehow turns out to be funny.

These are all examples of status-worthy updates.

There are other things about you that your Facebook friends just don’t need to know. While you may find a recap of your day’s mundane activities interesting, others do not. A status update is not necessary each time you leave your house or open your refrigerator. Everyone showers, works out, and looks forward to the weekend. Status updates are reserved for comments that are funny, thoughtful, informative, or at a minimum, interesting. In addition, we do not need to know about how much you love spending time with your boo or how you have the BeSt FrIeNdS iN tHe WoRlD! Please, spare us.

Tip #2 - Get a room

I seem to be greatly outnumbered in my belief that your significant other has no place in your profile picture. This I can l learn to live with. I think we can all agree, however, that your significant other’s tongue deeply nestled in your throat….has no place in your profile picture.

You’ve found the love of your life and you’re elated. That’s great, really. It’s human nature to love and want to be loved. I’m not so sure that Facebook is the right platform on which to express your adoration for each other, however. There are certain aspects of a relationship that should be kept private- or at least offline. Sure, young love is adorable, but when your Facebook Newsfeed turns into a conglomeration of borderline pornography and “No, I love you MORE!” battles, it makes you a little uncomfortable. These are the types of things that should be shared in your personal lives and not posted all over a social networking site. I find it troublesome when one’s identity becomes inseparable from their significant other’s on Facebook. It’s YOUR profile after all- not you and your significant other’s.

Tip #3 – Vulgarity and hatefulness are big no-nos

This issue is one that I find paramount, and is also the reason I was inspired to write this blog post. Recently, I was exposed to a post that was so obnoxious and profane, it made me feel sick to my stomach. I am a proponent of free speech, and I think that Facebook is a great platform to express opinions and engage in discourse (although I’d argue that twitter is the more appropriate platform). When you use hateful, profane language about someone or someone’s political party/team/school/etc… however, you are crossing the line.

I find these posts not only to be hurtful and disturbing, but distasteful in general. It’s one thing to talk trash and playfully banter about a rival team, but when you go so far as to say malicious things to get a rise out of someone, it’s tacky and it shows weakness. I think this is amplified when you say obnoxious, derogatory things about a team and its fans based in your hometown.

Not only is typing in all caps offensive, it makes people question your highest completed level of education. I used to type in all caps, too. I was 9, and I had not yet discovered the magical button on my keyboard known as “Shift”.

One exclamation point implies the same as five exclamation points. Are you sure you even need an exclamation point? An exclamation point is not the "every-day" way and should be reserved for holidays, dinner parties and special occasions- just like you would use a formal dining room (thank you, Jennuh Reeves, for the illustrative metaphor). So please, think twice before you attack us all with your caps and excessive punctuation.


  1. Great post! Agree with everything you say here. I had a friend who did the all caps status updates, and it annoyed me to the point of calling her out on it and she stopped doing it. What you say about using FB for saying mean things is totally right on, too, even if it is vague and not directed at a single person. As in, there was a girl who I dated, who, when I decided to stop seeing her, she would post mean things about me without actually saying my name. -matty

  2. You forgot #5: No political debates

  3. Great post, so needed. I reposted it on my fb too. Thanks for this information.

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