Style & Then Some

Navigating the social network: How to avoid the pitfalls of Facebook

Facebook has been occupying our hearts, minds and computer memory for almost ten whole years and for many of us, status updates and photo uploads are second nature. So how – how – do people still get Facebook so wrong?

Facebook, social media, internet, friends, 2013

My hourly scroll of my Facebook feed reveals many things about humanity: that very few people have an accurate grasp of spelling or grammar; that the vast majority of us have frustratingly unexceptional lives and crucially; that Facebook is deemed an appropriate medium to share one’s ‘beef’ with all and sundry.

Most people’s ‘Friends’ lists (despite it being a truth universally acknowledged that very few online friends are physical friends in any sense) are comprised of a strange social graveyard. Ex-partners, their families, people that went to your secondary school that you may or may not have ever liked, and university friends that remain undeleted (so that you can engage in that almighty battle of Who Wins at Life) all feature in this graveyard. As we all scroll relentlessly, we’re really scrolling through our own social history.

People from school tend to post the most, about the boredom and/or lack of work, new flats, engagements, Friday nights on the town, sports results, celebrity deaths. University pals are far more careful, perhaps only uploading a change of job and one or two surreptitious holiday albums as a tantalising glimpse of their success – alongside a share of a topical article from The Guardian, The Times or some satirical blog on the state of the world. Then come the geriatrics – the parents, hell, even savvy grandparents, who are not privy to any Facebook etiquette at all. Embarrassing occurrences such as mixing up the search bar and the status box are commonplace, resulting in a status of simply ‘George Jones.’ Couple that with the classic parental comment of ‘You look gorgeous we are so proud have a great time safe flight love Mum xxxxxxxxxxxxxx’ on a photo, and there’s fairly convincing evidence that Facebook really does have an age limit.

Note: Former flames do not feature on the feed scroll at all, because their updates have been necessarily blocked, of course.

So,  here are a few Facebook guidelines, for the good of one and all:

  • Text speak (U instead of you, gr8 instead of great etc) is not acceptable on Facebook. Unless used in a deliberate and ironic way.
  • Steer clear of posting statuses that blatantly but surreptitiously refer to a particular situation or person, not only is uninteresting for fellow scrollers, it also is a bit cowardly.
  • Understand and embrace the fact that a status you find hilarious may fall flat and achieve a grand old zero likes.
  • ‘Check in’ once you’re somewhere exciting and impressive – ‘my bed ;)’ does not count.
  • Be very careful when commenting on current affairs, lest your meaning is misconstrued and you end up in a massive row with Kelly from primary school or, worse, someone calls the Feds on you.
  • Be frugal with pictures – endless, endless you-and-partner selfies are unnecessary.
  • Always be aware that Facebook pictures can haunt you, for life.  I’m speaking from experience here.
  • Editing a profile picture is okay, but use Photoshop sparingly – it does need to still actually look like you. Again, speaking from experience.

Facebook is a perilous place but as a rule of thumb, if you’re unsure about a photo, status or comment, don’t post it. A half decent profile picture and an envy-inducing beach/mountain/I’m-having-fun cover photo are all you need, and the Facebook world is your oyster.

Have you ever made a hideous Facebook faux-pas that you lived to regret? Or do you think I’ve missed any other pitfall pointers in my guidelines? Drop me a comment below.

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This entry was posted on July 18, 2013 by in And Then Some and tagged , , , , .
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