Practicing Proper Social Media Etiquette: Facebook
I would love to say I live my life on the forefront of social media but it would be a blatant lie. I joined Twitter while on a lunchdate with one of my tweet-savvy friends, I joined Pinterest on the urging of one of my pin-obsessed friends, and I joined Facebook on the insistance of my cousin (back in the fall of 2005). I'm not sure many of the current users remember having to input their course schedule upon the opening of their accounts but I remember thinking, "god, this is so frackin' annoying" as I rummaged around in my schoolbag for my crumpled schedule. Now, like many others, my timeline has become a pictorial roadmap of my maturation and, currently, documents a little over seven years of my life; through photos, status updates, videos, comments and wall posts. The twenty-somethings now [the University students then, when Facebook went global] have learned how to adjust our privacy settings, vigilantly guard our personal information and, well, seamlessly stalk our exes; whether they be friends, romantic partners or enemies.
Unfortunately, many people from older generations are starting to use Facebook to reconnect with old friends, rekindle old romances and stay in touch with family thousands of miles away but are seemingly unaware of the proper etiquette when it comes to Facebook privacy. For example, my mother joined Facebook a little over a year ago and within one month of her joining she typed Tolstoy-long comments, posted responses to my friends wall posts and invited her entire email-contact list to be her friend.
My sister and I had to stage an intervention within two weeks by throwing an impromptu 'learning to use Facebook' training session. Although, she seems to have shifted her penchant for comments of a jarringly long nature to text messages, there is no doubt she has become very Facebook-savvy and one who fiercely guards her privacy. This, however, does not seem to be shared with her friends, some of my extended family or Facebook-newbies, so considering I don't want anyone to feel like they aren't informed enough to use Facebook (or any other social media network, I hear Lady Gaga has one now) I am writing a short starter guide on what to avoid doing.
Pens at the ready? Bueno.
Since the introduction of the comment bar on Facebook there has been the tendency to feel the need to share your feelings on everything. Seriously, we all though the 'like' [or now 'recommend'] button was bad - what with people 'liking' everything from vaguely suicidal status updates to empty plates of food - but commenting has become even more annoying, especially considering you are notified every single time someone has responded.
Your comment length should be akin in length to your boyfriend texting you back after you've taken the time to type out paragraphs of instructions [ie: 'k'] and should never be longer than the actual thing your commenting on. Please do not confuse the comment bar with a forum to share your deepest of political views, the feelings you've been containing for years nor should you be writing anything longer than a few acerbic lines.
I know the 'Ninja Cat' stirred deep feelings within the depths of your soul and changed the tide of life as you know it but there is no reason to share that fact with the world, please save these epiphanies for your diary.
Please, for your own safety and sanity, do not type your telephone number, email address or mailing address in the comment bar, no matter how desperately you want to reconnect with the person who just wrote on your wall. A faster way to be raped and pillaged would be to drive down to the city prison to hand out fliers with this information to recently parolled offenders, please type all this information in a direct (and private) message.
2. Personal Information
Just because there is an entire pie infront of me does not mean I should eat it all, the same sentiment can be adopted when it comes to filling out personal information; just because the boxes exist does not mean you need to fill them out. Depending on how adept you are at tweaking your privacy settings there should not be a great need to fill in anymore information than the basics; name, date of birth and current hometown.
You do not need to fill out your political leanings, religious views, phone number, ICQ username or charitable associations you've recently donated money. These are not need to know information and should be seen as sprinkles on the cupcake of your life. There have been several studies and reports on identity thieves learning all they need to know about their victims by using Facebook, although social media brings us together it also gives an outside-eye more than enough information to answer personal information questions about you.
Just remember to protect your personal information and just because Barbara Jean, down the street, has listed every bit about herself does not mean you should follow suit. Be smart and do some research on the internet (or with your kids) on how to adjust your privacy settings to keep Facebook somewhat-safe.
3. Sharing on Facebook
I share a lot of links on my Facebook timeline and over the seven years have had a few hundred photos uploaded of me and subsequently tagged but that's 2,555 days worth of memories, please do not start uploading photos just for the sake of it. There is nothing wrong with uploading old photos to share with family (who may not have access) or friends (who have requested them) but please, for the love of god, save your children the embarrassment of uploading the thousands of childhood photos which make them cringe. Your kids, as they are presently, will probably pop up on your timeline every now and then, so you don't need to share every 'adorable' childhood photo you own with your Facebook friends.
Most news and entertainment media sites have a 'share' button and encourage readers to share with their friends on Facebook, so have fun with what you are sharing. Most sites on the internet have a 'like' or 'recommend' button somewhere on their main page to draw traffic to their content but do not expect all your followers to enjoy the steady stream of shares. There are many people who find this feature of Facebook to be wholly annoying, so be ready for some testy Facebook friends.
Facebook should be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what their age, but like with everything there are a certain number of rules to learn and follow. Social media has the unique ability to connect old family, old friends and, even, old flames but be weary of what you put on the internet.