Today while failing to fight the side-effects of Dayquil, I wrote a long, rambling Facebook status update about pickles. I’m disappointed in myself. It’s not the pickle rant itself that I’m ashamed of– I always think crazy things when I’m sick and last time I took this much Dayquil I drew a surprisingly intricate picture of a fruit fly.
No, the disappointment stems from the fact that I mentioned I’m sick on Facebook. I’ve established certain rules for social networking, and it embarrasses me to have broken one in a moment of weakness.
The whole time I’ve been Facebooking (which is a verb now), a small part of me hoped that other people would embrace my rules by osmosis. I thought maybe if I stayed classy, Facebook would take note and become ashamed of its previous behavior, but no dice. In light of my recent indiscretion and the dread that comes over me every time I read my news feed, I’ve decided it’s time to go public. So here it is, World: a long-overdue Guide to Facebook Etiquette and Civility. Pass it along if you wish (but always remember to use the proper fork when doing so).
Rule #1: Please stop complaining over Facebook.
I’m not the most empathetic person in the world. In fact last week I was told my personality drives people away. That may be why I feel that if I read another passive-aggressive status update about how you’re sick and angry because we all ruined your life, I will go to your home and make sure that’s true. Maybe by giving you a wedgie or replacing all your shoes with slightly smaller, identical pairs. I expect you to tag me in the whiney post you write about it later because life-ruining of that magnitude takes effort.
Rule #2: Please refrain from telling me about your baby, your alcoholic blackout, or your agenda for the day.
I’m a hands-on learner so if I wanted to find out more about babies, I would make one of my own. You should assume by the way I don’t do that that I don’t want to know. Unless yours has impeccable timing and poops on people when they’re being obnoxious, I’m not interested.
Drunk stories are often funny, but Facebook statuses are always only about how much you drank. When you write about your 30 shots and subsequent blackout, it doesn’t make me laugh. It makes me look for pamphlets on alcoholism to leave on your windshield.
As far as your agenda is concerned, I’m all for To-Do Lists… but I have my own. When I read yours, I feel like I’m stalking you. If someone wonders aloud about what you’re doing and I’m able to answer because I inadvertently memorized your schedule, we have a problem.
Rule #3: Please make your updates specific.
As a journalism student, there is nothing more frustrating to me than reading an update that says in its entirety, “That was funny!” because I’m left with so many questions. When you post ambiguous things like that, I can tell that you’ve failed to understand social networking. Facebook and other social media exist so people can share experiences, but I can’t comment on those posts because I have no idea what you’re talking about. You’ve somehow managed to create an inside joke with yourself.
Rule #4: Please keep your exclamation points to a minimum!!!!!!!!
You’ll notice that the right side of this blog consists almost entirely of exclamation points, which makes this point really hypocritical. But hey, I’m a hypocrite. I’ll own it. When I read exclamation points, the voice in my head (which has sounded obnoxiously like a member of the Kennedy family all day today, by the way) automatically has an upward inflection at the end. So two exclamation-pointed sentences in a row make my head feel patronizing and sarcastic, and sentences like, “We did great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” confuse me. Hooray for enthusiasm or whatever.
Incidentally, the same applies to excessive use of ellipses. I always worry you’ve gone comatose mid-status update.
Rule #5: Please don’t tell me about your relationship angst or comment on someone else’s relationship angst.
I have an acquaintance who uses every status update to tell the rest of us not to trust anyone because she was recently dumped. She’s pretty good at doing this, because sometimes she’ll combine it with the ambiguity I warned against in Rule #3, but you know she’s talking about her ex-boyfriend. I don’t believe in love, but I’m also not big on informing everyone I know that the people they’re fond of are probably just waiting to carve out their still-beating hearts with the knife they have shoved in their sock. If I was that paranoid and bitter, I’d be a TSA agent.
And on the heart note, it kills me when I see “So-and-So is single” and underneath that, someone has commented, “BUT WHY???????” If they wanted to tell you that, they probably would have called, or emailed, or sent you a greeting card or something. I have never met a person who has recently been dumped who wanted to write, “I’m so glad you asked! I was dumped in a brutal and traumatizing fashion by someone I liked very much and bought expensive gifts for. I will probably never be able to love again and I’m thinking of becoming a cave-dwelling hermit who only talks to birds. Thanks for your caring inquisitiveness!”
The same goes for the dumper. No one wants to type on a relatively public forum, “Well, I dumped my significant other and they cried for three hours and then sat outside my window for another two arguing with me about it. It was pretty much all to do with creative differences in our personal hygiene and the fact that I’ve been secretly seeing someone else for the last six weeks.” Even if you dump someone in the nicest way possible, you don’t really want to advertise that on Facebook. They’re never going to respond to the “BUT WHY????” question. So don’t ask it.
Rule #6: Please try not to dig for compliments.
This rule should apply to everyday life, but it’s especially awful on Facebook, where we can all see it and you have a permanent record of all the people who pity you. When you write things like “I’m an awful human being and that’s why everyone I’ve ever loved has left me and I’m updating my Facebook page while sitting in a puddle in an alley beside a dead cat,” people (not me, remember? No empathy.) feel obligated to tell you that you’re a meaningful person who fills their lives with joy and wonder. And while that may be true most of the time, the second you write an update like that, you cease to be meaningful. You’re combining the whining from Rule #1 with the subtlety of an article in Cosmo. Plus, you’re asking for someone who really lacks empathy to come along after everyone’s written “No!!!! We love you!!!!” and type something like, “Yep. You’re the worst. I wish you would move to the South Pole.” (Apparently in my head all internet trolls insult people like kindergarteners in Disney movies.)
I don’t want to sound dramatic, but every time you break one of these rules, your friends die a little inside. You’re murdering them slowly. You sit there and think about that, while I go tell Twitter I finally got my pickle fix.