Social networking can be a beautiful thing. It allows us to maintain friendships and connections that would otherwise be rendered near impossible by constraints of time and distance. It bonds us closer to people with whom we might not have otherwise realized we had so much in common and provides an easy way for us to keep in touch with those we hold most dear.
Social networking can also be a cesspool of human ugliness and a breeding ground for blind hatred, willful ignorance, and general bad manners. Sometimes, it can be just plain annoying.
I've thought of a few things that can help or hinder successful social networking. This is not one of those "how to build your personal brand" or "7 ways to boost your social media presence" type posts. I have no advice that's going to turn you into a social media celebrity. I'm still trying to work out how I'm going to ever get around to the 92 unread messages in my FB inbox. These are just a few ways to not be the person everyone blocks from their newsfeed.
|No, for real. 92. Help me.|
1. I'm not gonna tell you not to post pictures of your baby or your food or your politics or what-have-you. It's your Facebook. Post what you want. But there are some things worth considering before you hit "share."
- If you are constantly posting things all day long and consistently getting zero likes, chances are, your friends are getting overwhelmed by your prolificness and have either hidden you from their newsfeeds or just trained themselves to scroll past everything you say. Which is unfortunate, 'cause what if you actually do have something you REALLY want your friends to hear, but they're so used to seeing inspirational quotes, bathroom selfies, and photos of sad looking animals that they just pass it by? Something you see on FB might speak to you. You might find it funny. But you don't HAVE to share it. Let it warm your heart and move on. If you just want to remember it, use Pinterest or save it to your hard drive. There are way more efficient and less annoying ways to archive the things you like.
- What kind of community does your post create? If you're constantly posting political things that end in your Facebook friends "shouting" profanities at each other, consider whether that's really what you want from your social relationships. Does it advance your political cause for this to happen? Is anyone edified? Has anyone learned anything? If conflict is your thing and you just love to watch a train wreck happen, fine. Go for it. But when someone drops you as a friend after everyone you know ganged up on them in an argument, be aware before you post a snarky, self-satisfied update about how they ran away when they were proved wrong, that that's not why they quit you. They jumped ship 'cause you're kind of an ass.
2. Don't be that person who thinks they have the right to dictate what other people post on Facebook.* Y'know, the person who makes the proclamation that "No one wants to see what you ate for dinner!" or "Everybody's done with Grumpy Cat so just STOP!" Now, we all get annoyed by the repetition of memes (I wouldn't mind never seeing the "what ___ thinks I do" thing ever again) and people's oversharing (I get it, you do CrossFit), but what's equally annoying is Captain Judgey Pants deeming anything s/he is not into utterly worthless. Basically it's like saying to everyone you're friends with, "Stop posting anything that does not directly appeal to ME." It can be funny to satirize something popular, but if you can't do it in a way that's clever and not just mean, maybe hold your tongue. 'Cause you may get 27 likes on your status about how lame everyone is who posts vacation pics, but you've also just alienated 250 other people who had this weird idea that Facebook was about sharing life with people. I may be sick to death of hearing how much weight you lift over your head every day, but I realize you have a grip of other friends who find that totally awesome and that it matters to YOU. Carry on. Don't let the man get you down.
*"Hey! Isn't that what YOU'RE doing?" Nay, my friend. Far be it from me to tell you what to do. I'm simply offering a few tips on what to do IF you don't want to be an obnoxious facebook user. If that's not a concern, do your thing, man.
3. SNOPES!!! For the love of ALL that is excellent and praiseworthy, check Snopes before you post anything that reads like an email forward from your grandmother. (And before you tell me that Snopes is liberal/conservative/satanic/etc., Google that real quick. Debunked.) Onions are not secretly plotting to kill you (even though they're really gross); neither Bill Cosby nor Morgan Freeman ever said that thing you think they said; Hitler didn't either. If some politician supposedly said something in a televised interview that gives away their entire dastardly plan to rule the world, maybe YouTube that business and make sure it, y'know, happened. Google it. An unedited version. Maybe you don't trust Snopes, but if the ONLY place you can find proof of it is on wildly partisan, borderline conspiracy theorist websites, chances are it's a load o' malarkey. Please don't post it.
4. Don't post spoilers. I know, it's rough. You want to prove to everyone you're hip and cool and totally watch what all the kids are watching, but if something just aired five minutes ago and you want to tell everyone how surprised you were that the main character died, you do not deserve Facebook privileges. There are approximately 8 kajillion websites on the internet where you can discuss these things with people in real-time. You don't have to ruin it for your friends who watch it on Hulu. Keep it cryptic. "Wow, I did not see that coming on Walking Dead," is enough to stimulate conversation with those that were watching without totally frickin' killing the surprise for the unlucky saps whose satellite provider got in a knock-down drag-out with AMC and doesn't carry the channel anymore. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.
|Be like Pigboots here and move on.|
5. Nobody has drama on Facebook who doesn't want drama on Facebook. That actually generally applies to real-life, too. It's a well-documented fact. Don't post some thinly veiled, passive aggressive status update about how "some people need to mind their own business and not come between me and mine" when the other party can SEE what you wrote, and then an hour later throw up another post about how you hate drama. If you really hated drama, you'd message that person and say something like, "Hey, I heard through the grapevine that you said this thing about me and I felt that it was hurtful and untrue. Can we grab coffee and talk about why you feel that way?" And if the other person was like, "NO! EFF YOU! HULKSMASH!" you'd be like, "Alright, well, it's probably for the best that we sever ties for the time being," and you'd SHUT THAT NONSENSE DOWN. With the world of social networking at our fingertips, we have an unprecedented opportunity to communicate with each other 24/7. Using text, we can carefully choose our words in a way we aren't really able to when face-to-face. Are we seriously just gonna use it to perpetuate the same knee-jerk reactions and dysfunction we throw around without that benefit? Yes. I know. The answer is yes. Le sigh.
6. Don't troll people. If you're scrolling through your newsfeed looking for reasons to correct someone or insinuate that they're dumb, go home, Roger. If you've ever started a comment with, "Um... actually," and you were doing it to be condescending, not playful, seriously, go home. I often correct my brother when he uses the wrong your/you're in a post. Because I'm his bratty little sister. I can do that. My close friends and I also poke fun at each other for dumb stuff like that. 'Cause we know each other and being pompous jerks to each other is part of our shtick. We're pretty comfortable in knowing we don't think each other to actually be idiots. Don't be patronizing to someone you haven't talked to since the 4th grade. And don't be patronizing to people who seem genuinely hurt or angered by it, even if they are your close friends. You're probably trying to show how smart you are, especially as compared to the unenlightened peons on your friends list. And maybe you are a total genius. That's fantastic. But people don't like feeling stupid, and if you make them feel stupid, they probably don't like you.
|Exception to this rule: If you're Taylor Swift.|
7. Sometimes it's best that your personal business remains personal. Keep the dirty laundry in the basket. I know it can feel good to vent to everyone about how much your ex hurt you or how your best friend backstabbed you. I was a 15 year old with a livejournal once. In the end, putting all the crap out there does more harm than good. Your friends get weary of constantly hearing about how much your life sucks, and all you're doing is constantly rehashing the bad things that are happening to you, ultimately causing you to wallow in it. Plus, if you and your ex or your best friend ever make up, you have to deal with the fact that all of your friends know about the skeletons in the closet. It can be pretty hard to convince everyone around you that giving it a second go is a good idea when you made a meticulous list of all the ways in which this person was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad human being and broadcast it to everyone with an internet connection.
8. In my opinion, the best way to be super awesome at Facebook and NOT an obnoxious doucheface is to make people smile. Foster positive relationships. Don't let people tear each other down on your wall. Say nice things to people. "Like" their triumphs. Post things for friends that you know might want to see them. I mean, it's your page. Don't get me wrong. It's not your responsibility to do anything but what you want with it, and it's awesome if you want to show off the things that are important to you. I find that I get the most out of it when we're all just having a good time together--like a great, big game night with 1500 of my closest friends.
And remember: When in doubt, t-rex arms are never not funny.
Feel free to add your pet peeves and tips! Or tell me if you totes disagree with me.