Being on Facebook the last few weeks has been an incredible learning experience. Besides being an inexpensive and lightning quick means to connect — and reconnect — with old friends and scattered relatives, Facebook is also a source for the hilarious, ridiculous, and yes, often annoying paraphernalia that seems to keep our culture rolling. So my most recent challenge has been to ‘develop’ my persona through my timeline and create an image of what I want to communicate to friends. I don’t want to become that lady who constantly posts every asinine thought on the status line: “don’t you just hate it when you have your coat on and you’re ready to head out the door to go to work and suddenly you have to poop really bad?” Or “Hey gals out there, anyone else on the rag today? Let’s start a club! We can call ourselves the Menstrual Mommas! LOL!!!” Or “Got back from work and immediately unbuttoned skirt but was too lazy to take it off so just safety pinned it to my tights so it would be looser while I ate my stir fry on the couch.” Actually I really am doing this right now. It was an issue of time; the stir fry wasn’t going to wait and the skirt was digging into my waist. Yeah, I have thought this through carefully because while I didn’t see anything nearly this gross or stupid (yet) on Facebook, I really don’t want to subject my Facebook friends to any of my crazy. The neighbors get to see enough of it.
When I expressed consternation about wanting to learn to use Facebook properly, my sister gave me a quick crash course in the Dos and Don’ts according to her. She has been on Facebook for years now, has seen it all, and has some great advice to share. So, without further ado, these are my sister’s Facebook rules for Dumb Me and any other Dummies out there.
- Facebook is what you want it to be. Your Facebook page is your own, you post and share the content that you want. You can project the persona that you choose. You can use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family, show off cherished photos, promote a business, post news and political opinions, or even be ‘that person’ ranting about things that bother you, if you want. Your page is your space to create the image that you want to show the world, and what you post will be thrown out there for the world to see. That being said…
- You are not obligated to get into a fight with someone on Facebook if you disagree with their content. There are many reactionary options when encountering content you don’t like, but the first option does NOT need to include inflammatory replies or online harassment. My sister has had problems in the past when friends saw something that another friend posted on her timeline, didn’t like it, and took it upon themselves to harass the friend through her Facebook page. Keep in mind, these people didn’t personally know the ‘friend’ they were harassing, and it became very ugly. So I reiterate: there are a lot of things that we see online everyday. It is easy to find things to dislike. Unfortunately the Internet is making it so much easier to make personal attacks from behind a computer screen. So my sister’s advice in a nutshell: you don’t have to ‘Like’ everything; you also don’t have to attack what you dislike.
- Don’t believe everything you read on the News Feed. I have already had this conundrum. I cannot stress this enough, if you find something in the feed that seems really intriguing, that many people have liked and commented on, often vehemently, and something about the story seems off, check it on Snopes.com to verify before you make a comment. It will prevent you from A) looking like an ass for spreading a rumor and B) getting worked up over something that isn’t true, or C) it will prove that the story is true and worth your getting fired up. Then comment all you want.
- Be proud of what you post and own it. My sister and I actually have diverging thoughts on this. My thought is that I don’t plan to put anything (hopefully) on Facebook that I wouldn’t be proud to show my grandmothers. My sister on the other hand told me “I am actually shocked that some people haven’t un-friended me because of the horrible shit I have put on Facebook.” After this I am going to go look at her timeline and see what she’s talking about. But the point is, whether it is sweet, family oriented content that would make Grandma chuckle or X-rated shenanigans that would make Mormons cry, you have to really own your content. From the time you click that ‘Post’ button, you are affirming a responsibility for the content, so know what you are doing.
I want to thank my sister for taking the time to give me her perspective on Facebook and sharing her tips for usage. I will be a giraffe until Thursday because I overestimated my intelligence on the Facebook riddle this morning and had to change my profile picture. Another example of stupid-fun things in the news feed…