13 minutes ago
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sometimes it feels like the world of technology is moving faster than etiquette can keep up. And nowhere is that more apparent than on Facebook. Unless you are ultra-selective with your friends, your Facebook friends aren’t the same thing as your REAL friends. They’re more like your Facebook acquaintances. And, as such, they shouldn’t have (nor do they want, most of the time) access to your most intimate life details. If you really need advice about a break-up or you notice your friend is looking “puffy” and want to know if she’s pregnant, this is not the venue to ask. Write an email, or pick up the phone - (that’s that thing with the numbered buttons, remember?). While the helpful PSA above outlines the basics, I've added some of my own guidelines (some of which I am guilty of having broken myself in the past). Just follow these simple rules and you'll be able to keep your head and save face on Facebook.
Facebook Etiquette 101
1. Never change your relationship status alone- it should be a joint decision when, and whether, you go from “It’s Complicated” to “In a Relationship”, lest your affectionate outreach end up unreciprocated. And never, ever, ever, break up with someone by changing your status to “Single”. That is ice cold. Your former flame deserves to know it’s over at least half an hour before his or her 387 best friends do.
2. Don’t “friend” people you don’t know. It’s fine to go through your friends’ friends looking for hotties, but ask your friend for an introduction first. If you absolutely can’t resist “friend”-ing someone you don’t know, at least send a message to them introducing yourself. Unless you are confident enough in your profile pic that you think it speaks for you, I guess.
3. Conversely, it is absolutely okay to decline a friend request from someone you don’t know (I recommend it, actually). No matter how good you make your privacy settings, they only work if you don’t friend anyone who asks. It’s like installing a high-tech security system in your house, and then leaving the door ajar. And it’s okay to un-friend someone after the fact, too – they won’t receive notification that it has happened (although they might try to look at your profile or get a “friend suggestion” for you, blowing your cover. If they confront you about it, just claim Mark Zuckerberg must have screwed up something in the system.
4. “Poking” isn’t a substitute for real friendship. If we went to high school together and haven’t seen one another in years, a “poke” isn’t exactly the best way to catch up. If you want to be in touch with someone, write something on their wall, message or email them, instead. Or, if you don’t particularly care about them, then keep your virtual fingers to yourself.
5. When going in to Facebook from someone else’s computer, always remember to make sure they are logged out before you sign in, and that you log yourself out when you are done. When my now-husband and I were dating, I saw that an old friend of mine and I weren’t Facebook friends anymore. I friended her and jokingly wrote the message, “OMG, biznatch, did you un-friend me?” Turns out I was logged in to my boyfriend’s profile, and they hadn’t met yet. Oops. I had some 'splaining to do after that.
6. It’s nice to update your status every now and then, but don’t go overboard. If you find yourself logging into Facebook to update your status to say what you’re doing before you actually do anything, then you need to reprioritize your life, dude. Plus, not everyone wants to know the embarrassing details of everything you (or your baby, or your dog) do. Look through your friends, and choose one (like your friend’s dad) to use as your standard-bearer. Before you update your status to, “iS ssoO/)ooo drrunk, and hungary fot pIZtza”, think of Mr. Friends-Dad, and whether you want him to read it when he wakes up in the morning. Then press “delete”.
7. Give your photos a serious, critical, look. Don’t be an idiot- take down, or at least un-tag, that pic of you playing beer-pong in a bikini (even if your butt looks great in it). Not only is your friend’s dad gonna see it, but so might potential employers. If you post pictures of friends, keep the same thought in mind for them. Once something goes ON the Internet, you can never fully take it off.
8. There’s a reason Facebook has “wall posts” and “messages” – they are two different things. “I luv u baby, you r so hott” is something best said (or messaged) in private, not posted on your paramour’s wall. Wall posts should be things that other people will find funny or interesting, too. The exception to this is birthday posts, because having a wall-full of birthday wishes from people you hardly know makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Follow these rules and you'll be interacting in the virtual world with just as much grace as you do in the real world. Just please don't ask me for etiquette tips for your World of Warcraft or Second Life avatars.