The Etiquette of Facebook, or, “Please don’t bring up those elementary school pictures I was tagged in in front of all our co-workers.”

Even if Emily Post hasn’t quite got round to adding a chapter on it, there are unspoken rules to social media. They boil down to Wil Wheaton’s motto: “Don’t be a dick.”

Here are a few:

Aviary Photo_1303017340043412251. Don’t tag unflattering pictures.

2. Don’t start comment wars over something irrelevant.

3. Don’t invite me to play Candy Crush.

4. And definitely don’t invite me to your friend’s nephew’s private school fundraiser.

5. Don’t trick yourself into believing passive-aggressive comments somehow give you depth.

6. Don’t carry on conversations that really should be private in a place where they clog up a feed.

7. And definitely, DEFINITELY don’t bring up non-work-related Facebook information in a crowded workplace environment.

That is what Facebook has become. It is no longer that small enclave of the internet where you can connect with new genuine friends and reconnect with old genuine friends. That now seems to be Tumblr. Is is no longer that place where you can expose your immense wit and intelligence (or lack thereof) through the sheer power of typing then pressing enter. That is now Twitter.

Facebook is now the place where we try to put our best selves. It’s so carefully curated that to expect a Facebook page to be an accurate representation of a person is to expect the Louvre to be an accurate representation of history. No one’s life is as awesome as they make it seem. They’ve edited out the long, boring nights they spend watching television.

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But Some Things Never Change

Today I culled my Facebook list. Starting out with 332 friends I made myself a pledge that I would half that number. (I actually did one better and got down to 165. )

What a strange way to quantify your life.

I’ve been juggling the idea of writing a post about “growing up” for a couple of weeks now. “Growing up.” Bah. Whatever might that mean? I’ve started drafts in WordPress, made notes on foolscap, Post-its, diaries, and spent a lot of time thinking. It’s something the last couple of weeks have led me to feel is necessary to interpret into words. I know this simple necessity is how I process the abstract concepts I struggle to understand. Writing something out is how I get myself to identify all the random things floating through my head; structuring them into a coherent set of sentences and paragraphs is how I come to understand it. The more simple the problem, the more simple the written word; the more abstract, the more likely it is to be fiction.

Continue reading “But Some Things Never Change”