Tips for Good Netiquette: Avoiding Tacky Facebook Behaviour
Everybody loves their social networking websites. In recent years, facebook has taken center stage as the most popular thereof, even beating out myspace. We can all agree it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends and family over long distance, or to just plain keep tabs on everything that’s going on. However, this sword cuts both ways. Just as you can see what everyone else is up to, everyone can also see what YOU are up to. Here is a list of tacky behaviors to avoid in order to correspondingly avoid sullying your name.
1. Status Updates
This is top of the list because it is the most common and easiest place for things to go terribly wrong both for its frequency and freedom of use. It is such a broad topic that I am breaking it down into its own subsections.
a) Downer Updates
Don’t make a habit of posting updates about how depressed you are and how nothing seems to work out for you. The more you bring yourself down through status updates, the more people will look down on you, and consequently the worse you’ll feel. I have seen people go so far as to give detailed commentary on their personal struggle with eating disorders and even admit the contemplation of suicide. In such extreme cases, this is beyond tacky and delves into the realm of downright inappropriate. Such severe personal issues are to be dealt with amongst a few very close family and friends and professional consultation. To put it bluntly, posting your baggage online is not going to lighten the load.
Passive-aggressive status updates are wonderful examples of pure facebook tackiness. These are the updates that ring something to the tune of “I guess SOME PEOPLE don’t know the meaning of friendship” and “It’s annoying that SOME PEOPLE can’t take a hint” which try to express dissatisfaction to a specific person or persons. However, they are often far too general to directly reach their target audience and most of the people who see them recognize them for what they are and all you’ve managed to do is earn (potentially hundreds of) eye rolls.
c) Complement Fishing
Writing ostensibly self-deprecating status updates might earn you a boost of self esteem from those who counter it with inspirational comments but there will be just as many if not more who recognize your plea for attention for what it really is or, even worse, consider you overly needy and/or narcissistic.
d) Freedom of Speech, BooYa!!
Um, yeah, maybe it would be best to take it down a notch with heavily opinionated status updates, especially when religion and politics are concerned. It is good to be young, intelligent, and thoughtful on a variety of matters, but you will almost always come off as overly pretentious and offensive when you publicize a strong opinion on either side of the spectrum for any hot topic.
The last thing you want is to be the one who’s flooding everyone else’s news feed with inane commentary on the weather, what you’re cooking, and how much you love your friends and family. The tackiness of this habit is ever-intensified if you indulge in any of the above habits. I would advise an absolute maximum of ONE status update per day, if not fewer.
f) Chain Mail
Viral chain posts often go something like “I bet my REAL FRIENDS won’t repost this” or “Repost if you’re against rape in the Congo” and sometimes come with an elaborate story of some stranger’s personal tragedy that is your responsibility to forward for his or her dake. This is probably the tackiest of the tacky. It not only shows that you were dumb enough to repost an obvious viral chain post running on shock value, but also that you are dumb enough to think you did a good deed by reposting it.
2. Posting Photos
This lends itself to tacky behavior just as well if not more so than updating your status and also demands its own set of subcategories.
a) Glamour Shots
The more effort you put into making your profile picture as fabulous and flattering as possible, the more people are going to recognize how over stylized and unrealistic it is. Everyone knows you’ve taken at least thirty different pictures of yourself with varying poses, angles, and lighting to get the effect of looking like someone you’re not, but what is even worse than going through the trouble for the one perfect shot is posting every other attempt! Yes, this is something I’ve seen more times than I care to admit. Manipulating your image like this does little more than signal to others an unexpected combination of narcissism and low self-esteem.
b) Drunk Photos
This one goes without saying. However, now that digital cameras fit easily into our pockets and they become more and more a standard feature in mobile phones, taking drunken pictures in the club and at parties becomes standard practice. Unfortunately, uploading these pictures to facebook and tagging all of your friends is also standard practice. I know that it isn’t your fault when someone else posts compromising pictures of you, but you should still take responsibility by untagging yourself and approaching the guilty party to have them taken down entirely. The wide variety of compromising images this can yield has been proven to have an impact on many people’s professional lives.
c) That’s ma Baby!!
There is nothing wrong with being a proud baby mamma or baby daddy. Go ahead and devote dozens of facebook photo albums to your little terror, erm, darling. However, showing off your baby online slips from pride to tackiness the second you make him or her into your profile picture. No matter how close you feel, your baby is not you! There is nothing more confusing than suddenly finding a random baby or toddler with the same name as one of my friends.
3. Friending Strangers
I recommend never adding anyone to your friends list who you do not know personally. There is no end of young people who insist on adding everyone in their school to facebook in a passive attempt to increase their popularity, but this almost always backfires. The “creep alert” almost always goes off when someone, especially a teenager, receives a friend request from a stranger. It is especially important not to do this if you have any of the bad habits above. The last thing you need is for people who don’t know you to characterize you solely based on your tacky status update and photo posting behavior.
Another terrible habit this leads to is adding someone you don’t know personally, but have a crush on, and then regularly posting indirectly suggestive status updates. This is a less aggressive form of facebook passive-aggression, but it still comes off as terribly inappropriate and tacky.
4. Relationship Status
My advice: Don't use this function. Period. It represents the depersonalization and dehumanization of an incredibly basic and intimate human state of affairs.
Relationships are a very personal and intimate matter, the status of which should not be switched on and off like a lamp. The main problem with the relationship status function is the ability to comment on it. It doesn't get much tackier than friends and lovers discussing the freshly updated status of a relationship for everyone to see. The worst (and yes, I've seen this) is when two recently broken up lovers argue in the comments section of this function.
The tackiest of everything I have thus far listed is the use of the relationship status function as the sole agent in enacting a break-up for reasons I need not explain.