The Ten Commandments of Facebook

Happy New Year! We’re three days in to 2014, which means about 60% of you have already given up on your New Year’s Resolution. So far my resolution of waiting a full ten minutes (previously five) after entering a club to verbalize my thoughts of “This was a mistake, I hate this, can we leave?” has been going quite well, mostly due to my determination to not go clubbing, ever.

If you’ve already given up, or failed to make a resolution in the first place, never fear! It’s not too late to pick a new one. Dare I say, a social one? Picture it: 2014, the year of improved Facebook etiquette.

Facebook is nearly ten years old, it’s high time we all learned some manners. With help from Emily, Bridget and Marie (henceforth known as the Time Ladies), and seven years of often painful observations, I present a perfectly reasonable New Year’s Resolution for people of all ages: the Ten Commandments of Facebook.

Disclaimer: These are not hard and fast rules. It’s the internet, there’s no such thing. We’ve all broken at least a few of these, and that doesn’t make you, or anyone else, a bad person. These are simply friendly suggestions based off a discussion with the Time Ladies, as well as a general consensus of Facebook users. 

1.       Thou shalt not over share

It can be tempting to tell your life story in every status update, and to delve into exquisite detail about whatever life! event! may have just occurred while waiting in line at Starbucks, but if every status post is a block of text, or you find yourself posting new statuses multiple times a day, every single day, you’re probably over sharing. Keep a little mystery, we don’t need an up to the minute play-by-play of your bunion removal or need to see a picture of every item of food you plan to consume.

2.       Thou shall learn the difference between a private message and a wall post and a comment

While these are similar, they are not interchangeable. A general rule of thumb:

  • A comment on a picture, status, or wall post should pertain directly to the original post.
  • A wall post should be a message generally intended for one person, but is news or information that may be of interest to others and is open for likes and comments by others.
  • A private message should be used if the subject matter is discreet, or heavily detail-oriented, or if the intention is to begin a conversation.

3.       Thou shalt not harass others with Googleable inquiries

Despite how public and accessible social media has made our lives, it still garners curiosity. Questions are good, but don’t mistake Facebook for a search engine. Before you ask, ask yourself: could I find this myself on Google? If it’s something along the lines of, “I love those shoes, where are they from?” ask away, but if my status is about football and you ask who won the Super Bowl last year, don’t be surprised if I respond with this.

4.       Thou shalt not use song lyrics of a depressing nature as a status whilst feeling low

Hey, I get it. You had a bad day, so you take one down. You sing a sad song, just to turn it around.  You heard that he settled down, that he found a girl, and he’s married now. What hurts the most is being so close, and having so much to say and watching her walk away. Why’d he have to go and make things so complicated? Goodbye, your almost lover. Goodbye, your hopeless dreams. I’ll make sure to wake you up when September ends.

Or you could, you know, handle your emotions like an adult instead of littering Facebook with what amounts to 7th grade graffiti.

5.       Thou shall make a genuine effort not to offend any individuals or groups of peoples

You are entitled to your opinions. You are even entitled to share your opinions if you so wish. You are not entitled to be an asshole about it. It’s possible to share your opinions without being offensive. I repeat, it is possible to share your opinions without being offensive. If you dislike redheads and don’t think they should blog, that is your opinion. If you post an article from a legitimate news source that reflects that belief and properly supports the argument that redheads shouldn’t blog, you are sharing your opinion. If you post a long rant of a status laced with profanities and mean names, or harass me on Facebook for being a redheaded blogger, you are being offensive. Don’t dehumanize someone then pout about your freedom of speech if there’s backlash. Even five year olds know if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

6.       Thou shall keep Facebook Displays of Affection to a minimum

You have a totally awesome new boyfriend, and he’s totally awesome and you love him so much and want to spend all of your time with him because he’s totally awesome, so when you’re apart you post on his wall telling him how much you miss his totally awesome self and look through all of his totally awesome photos, of course. While it’s totally awesome that you’re so into your new boyfriend, we don’t need to see every totally awesome cutesy little expression of your affection, and his college friends aren’t going to be thrilled to have dozens of notifications from someone they’ve never met liking every totally awesome picture they took of him in 2010.

7.       Thou shalt not tag peoples unnecessarily

If I wasn’t there, don’t tag me. You’re at a bar I’ve been to? Drinking a drink that I like? AND listening to a song we once heard together? Text me.

8.       Thou shalt not post a selfie with a self-deprecating caption

We’ve all seen it.

Mirror shot/arm’s length shot: Check.

Perfectly angled to emphasize good curves and hide bad curves: Check.

Color tint: Check.

Seductive expression and/or duck face: Check.

Beautifully styled hair: Check.

Flawless make-up: Check.

Optional novelty accessory (shutter shades, cowboy hat, bling, etc.) Check.

“ugghhhh gross im so ugly & disgustingg 😦 #nofilter #nomakeup” caption: Check.

The only way a girl – or guy, just replace make-up with six-pack – could be more obvious in fishing for compliments would be to caption everything with “I KNOW I’M PRETTY BUT I WANT YOU TO SAY IT!”

Tips for Success: if you’re so “disgusting” in a photo that it warrants a caption verifying the aforementioned “disgustingness,” don’t post it.

9.       Thou shalt not enter pointless conflicts with trolls, nor become a troll in thine own right

The sole purpose of trolls on the internet is to break the 5th commandment. They bait people into arguments by making outrageous and wildly offensive claims or statements, literally offense for the sake of offense, but they ignore logic and can’t be reasoned with. Arguing with them is like arguing with a brick wall, if the wall responded with racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs as well as more trolling. If you encounter a troll, DO NOT ENGAGE. It’s never worth it, you will never win, and engaging a troll is the first step to becoming a troll.

10.       Thou shall realize that what is present on the internet shall always be

Even if you untag it, even if you hide it, even if it’s private, even if you delete it, if you put it out on the internet, it’s out there forever. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go get yourself into all sorts of shenanigans, but it does mean you shouldn’t document and publish said shenanigans. You’re going to remember the best and the craziest nights even if there aren’t pictures, and it’s going to be a lot easier to land a job if a preliminary Google search of your name doesn’t turn up a picture of you urinating next to a church.

Now go forth with this knowledge, and make Facebook a better place.

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