Today, Facebook turned ten years old. Several of my friends posted their “facebook movies” today. I watched mine, and while it was a little sappy, it was entertaining to see a snapshot of the past seven years of my life. I joined Facebook in June 2006. At the time, I was working as an academic coordinator at Duke TIP’s Texas A and M campus. As someone who had left the “school scene” two years ago, I was unaware of what a strong hold Facebook had since taken on university campuses. (My friend Angela was actually at Harvard in 2004, at the same time as Zuckerburg. Yet at that time, I like most people was much more aware of Myspace). Yet I heard my staff members talk about “tagging” pictures and status updates, so I finally decided to jump on the train. At first, it was to surreptitiously spy on my staff, to be honest. But then, as I gained more “friends” from high school and college, I got hooked. Once I started getting iphones and androids with Facebook applications, my minor addiction got worse. I turned into a bit of a facebook junkie.
Recently, my affection for Facebook has somewhat dwindled, along with the amount of time I spend on it. Facebook, to me, is starting to feel like the handsome guy who you are really infatuated with at first, but then doesn’t turn out to be all he was cracked up to be. I should preface this by saying that Facebook, like religion and politics, is not always the problem within itself; the problem is also how people react and respond to it. In other words, I think I and other Americans sometimes misuse Facebook (and perhaps Twitter too, although I am really not into Twitter) and hide behind a computer screen to avoid expressing our true feelings. Or, we have not yet learned some of the social etiquette that should come with social media.
Over the past two months, I have seen a number of Facebook status updates that have upset me. My sister pointed out to me that some of these news items, I would have learned about from other mediums: Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death, the snow storm in Atlanta and its effect on schools, etc. Yet sometimes, I think learning about personal news items on Facebook is due to people’s discourtesy. I realize that I alone cannot be the one to “structure” social media or the way people choose to utilize it. But I think a dialogue about how to use it and how not to use it is in order.
21 Really Annoying Facebook Friends We All Have: http://www.generalforum.com/general-discussion/21-really-annoying-facebook-friends-we-all-have-106532.html
Yes, I read this blog, and I thought it was pretty accurate. Chances are, we’ve had these friends, and chances are, we’ve all fallen into some of these categories at some point. (I know I have). This post is a related one to read for a laugh. But, in all seriousness, I believe it is worth revisiting appropriate and inappropriate uses of Facebook. Please chime and and comment if you agree or disagree.
Inappropriate Uses of Facebook:
1. Telling people about major life change events before they’ve had a chance to tell their family and their closest circle of friends: not appropriate. It really is disappointing when you find out on Facebook that one of your best friends is engaged. And yes, that did happen to me. I know it’s exciting when this happens to you or to a friend/family member, but please refrain from posting the ring with the bling until the close friends know.
2. Ranting and whining just for the sake of ranting and whining: not appropriate. Honestly, that just gets annoying. I don’t have a problem with people posting links or articles about issues that affect the community, such as public transportation and money for schools. You can whine about those things. But if you’re bored on a Friday night because your posse is busy and you don’t have a date, then get over yourself.
3. Making insulting comments about someone’s political beliefs on Facebook when they are simply trying to post a respectful point of view: not appropriate. If you wouldn’t say it in person, then don’t say it on Facebook. I had a “friend” on Facebook cuss at me because I posted a link about how women still make 75 cents for every dollar, and some Congressmen voted against a bill that would help alleviate that problem. Some friends posted comments that disagreed with mine, but were respectful. Another posted that my perspective was “BS” (word spilled out) and that such things warranted people getting “fired” from his Facebook page. Well, guess what, I beat him to it.
4. Posting pictures from the wild party on Saturday night: not appropriate. Okay, I might have been guilty of this a time or two back in circa 2008, when I was still a young’n going to “twenty something” parties myself. But I have since refrained. I think the etiquette on this one has gotten better with time. And as a side note, I’ve heard of people not getting job offers for making this mistake, so don’t do it.
5. Posting beach pictures or bathing suit pictures: not appropriate. I know this one partly depends on comfort level, but overall, I think it’s tacky. Please don’t post a picture of me in my bathing suit, especially since I am an academic and an educator. It’s just weird.
6. Posting passive aggressive comments, status updates, or status changes because you are mad at a friend, no longer interested in seeing/dating them, or don’t have the backbone to discuss your problems in person: not appropriate. I think I’ll just say that and leave it there.
There are others that I find annoying or borderline inappropriate. Some people go too far with posting religious or political views on Facebook, which is why I am leery of what I post on both of those issues. But the six I posted above are the worst.
And now, on a brighter note, for the appropriate and good uses of Facebook:
1. Inviting people to events: It’s so much easier than Evite and so much less likely to end up in your spam box.
2. Status updates about funny life events, personal quirks, unexpected day happenings, etc. : I love these, and if you post funny and/or interesting status updates with just a little bit of self-deprecating humor, keep it up. My friend Simon from high school always posts status updates that make me laugh. I wish everyone’s were more like his.
3. Sharing funny memes, quotes, etc.: Good and appropriate
4. Making people aware of important community and world events through links to BBC, NPR, Yahoo News, etc.: Good and appropriate, and keep this up! It’s an easy way for me to get my news.
5. Messaging people: good and easy on Facebook, and it saves the trouble of looking up email addresses. The only annoying thing is when folks reply to 20 people when they should just reply to one. (Yes, I know I am guilty as charged on this one too).
6. Family and friend pictures: good and fun to look at, as long as you don’t overdo it. If you overdo your kid or significant other pictures, I might hide you from my newsfeed. But if you post such pictures occasionally, I enjoy it.
7. Information about cool new venues, restaurants, and places to go that are either opening or closing: good and appropriate. I knew to eat at Five Star Day one more time because of Facebook.
So, as my brother-in-law says, Facebook is a double edged sword. But if we use it right, it can be a good way to stay connected. I wish there was a way to either turn off my news feed or to filter it based on topic and not just person. I don’t think there is, so I’m learning to “take what I need and leave the rest.” And sometimes, the handsome guy isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, but he is still good, if you learn how to communicate with him the right way. Maybe Facebook is the same way.
Facebook, Happy 10th birthday. I wonder if you’ll still be around in another decade, and if so, how much you will have changed.