Most people possessing half of the skills necessary to operate Microsoft Word correctly are on Facebook. Some Facebook frequenters are as young as five-years-old – others as old as 90. Facebook doesn’t care. Everyone is welcome to join.
Believe it or not, there is a wonderful way to experience the journeys of others through social media. Many analog-loving, snail mail receiving, older generations would disagree – claiming that social media is ruining interpersonal communication.
(This was also said about the telephone… in 1875.)
When used correctly, Facebook (and other social media outlets) can help users share precious moments, outstanding achievements and big announcements to a selected group of online individuals. Facebook isn’t just a vast open abyss of Internet frontier. It’s made up of people users know in real life, such as friends, acquaintances, family members and coworkers.
However, those who have been actively using Facebook longer (some as early as 2004) have a more deepened understanding of the social stigmas of sharing personal information online, acting upon friend request opportunities and “tagging” another user’s account to posted content. There is a way to do it.
There is also a hauntingly creepy, totally inappropriate and ignorant way to do it. Let’s examine what differentiates the two.
1) Friend Requests
If you’re not sure if it would come across as weird to request someone’s friendship on Facebook – it would be weird. Did you meet this person in passing, or was this a truly meaningful introduction? That is the question to ask. If you both have a solid mutual friend, spent an evening talking at a social gathering or worked on a group project together at school/work – it’s safe to say a friend request is appropriate. You “know” them.
The weird part of requesting the friendship of someone you hardly know is not the fact that you want to be friends. It’s the fact that you took the only thing you knew about them (their name) and plugged it into a computer to find their profile page. As they were unknowingly out walking their dog, reading a book or taking a bath – you were online… searching for them specifically.
(Starting to sound weird, right?)
Answer these questions: Would you greet this person in passing? Would they reciprocate? Would you have an event, or subject to naturally discuss? If no is the answer to any of these questions – you are being weird. Quit stalking people.
2) Mundane Life Events
Whether your dog is chewing on a bone, you’re shopping for groceries or your child just spilled grape juice on their shirt – nobody cares. Nobody cares that your cat can climb your fridge. Nobody cares that your frozen TV-dinner tasted like it was expired. Nobody cares about your new toothbrush. Posting once a day is more than enough. Don’t feel the need to document every waking moment of your life… because it will be boring as hell.
Simply, try not to post things that are only interesting to you, because… well, they are only interesting to you. This doesn’t mean that everything you post has to be an epic discovery, but save posting for something you are convinced your loved-ones will enjoy – not roll their eyes at, as they “like” it so you don’t feel bad.
3) Begging for Compliments / Bragging
Do you want everyone to think you’re amazing? Well then don’t tell them over, and over and over again.
Statuses stating, “Me in my new bikini” – attached to a picture of a skinny girl in a bikini, is sad. If that skinny girl used to weigh 500 lbs… that would make it incredibly awesome. Do you see how that worked?
“I got the new job! Thanks everyone for your support”
“I just got my fourth job offer this week. I honestly wish I would stop getting all these emails.”
There are many more rules regarding social media etiquette. This just barely scrapes the surface. However, following these guidelines is a great way to start avoiding coming off as narcissistic, sad or completely insane citizen of the Internet. Stick to posts regarding meaningful events, relatable topics and strictly to people you know. Good luck!