Facebook is the currently the darling of all social media sites. Now that MySpace has been branded “low-class,” Facebook has surged in popularity, and the member status updates help the site function like one big conversation. But Facebook is not a tool to be used lightly. The status updates you post are little insights into your day and your mind, and posting the wrong one is just…wrong. So here’s a helpful guide to assist you in avoiding annoying me…er…committing a Facebook faux pas.
1. Never post about what you are eating for breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, dessert or any other meal. Remember when your teacher caught you sneaking food during school and asked you if you had enough to share with the rest of the class? Well, she (or he) did that because it is rude to flaunt your tasty cookies, soups, meats, cheeses and other divine edibles in front of people who don’t have access to them. Some of you like to really rub our noses in your happy palate and upload a picture of your food—that is really taking it too far. I don’t know about you but, because of these updates, I spend about 90% of my day hungry for crap I can’t even get.
2. Never post about the games you are playing. The other day, I was struck and saddened by a friend of mine who I assumed had been laid off. I assumed this because she posted a status update asking for laundry supplies. Fearing the worst, I was about to start a relief fund for her when a few hours later I saw she had updated her status to say, “Thanks” to all the members who had given her supplies and that now she needed help fighting the Russian Mafia. It took me a while to try and understand how my friend, who is an accountant, could have gone from reconciling columns of numbers to fighting the Russian mafia. As I reassessed my life, wondering how there could be so much I didn’t know about her, she posted another update that begged for help with, “a bunch of illegal transaction records” in New York. This was it. Now she’d gone too far. Over the course of 8 hours my friend had progressed from law-abiding accountant, to pauper, to Russian crime fighter, to New York crime-committer. It turns out she was actually posting these updates as part of some online Mafia game she was playing. Unbeknownst to her, I went on a massive emotional roller coaster over her game. Not cool. Not cool at all. If you are using Facebook for professional contacts, this type of update is even worse.
3. Stop making everyone feel guilty. Just about everyone has some cause that really means something to them. Whether it’s prostate cancer, diabetes or curing Alzheimer’s there is probably a pre-written status update that you can paste into your page to show everyone how much you care. The problem with this pre-written message is that it always includes this manipulative, guilt-inducing clause to try and get your friends to post the same message — “93% won’t Copy and Paste this, will YOU make this your status for at least ……one hour?” Way to make them hate your cause, manipulator.
4. Don’t talk about the underwear you are wearing… no matter what. One day this week, I was confused as I read my friends’ seemingly cryptic updates about colors. I spent the day reading updates like, “Purple with leather straps,” and “White with lace.” I thought everyone was just posting nonsensical color and material combinations until I found that some genius told women to post the color of their bra for breast cancer awareness. While this helped me better understand my mother’s brazen, “None! Let the puppies breath!” update, it did little to help me understand WHY people were doing it. After all, is there anyone who isn’t aware of breast cancer? And since there was no donation accompanying these updates, who exactly did they help?
Remember, your Facebook updates are supposed to be insights into your day that either friends or other professionals will enjoy reading. Talk about what’s going on in your life, what you are excited about, what you are concerned about, and what you are working on. They can be fun, funny and clever, deep and meaningful, or run-of-the-mill. Oh, and if your kids are on Facebook, never, ever, ever, ever talk about your underwear.