5 golden rules for Facebook

Ah, Facebook, you drifted into our lives like a wave and now you’ve stuck around like an octopus on our collective faces. Like it or not, social media is there and most people with internet use it. I know only two people who have chosen not to have an account, and they’re both just fine. But most of us stay on it because we know we’ll miss stuff if we don’t. I don’t know when it became so hard to e-mail people to invite them to something, but it has.

Just like before mobile phones existed, you made definite plans and then stuck to them, Facebook has changed the way we interact with each other. But not everyone has good social skills on social media. Being at a keyboard and not in a room with people makes it all too easy to say things and behave in a way that you never would normally. Well, being kind and respectful never hurt anyone. Neither did choosing not to be someone who drains other peoples’ emotional energy. With that in mind, I give you:

Five golden rules of Facebook

1) Don’t vaguebook

If you don’t want people to know what’s really going on, don’t post about it. If you want to talk to one or two people about it, talk to *them*. You don’t even have to leave Facebook to do it- use instant messages. Vaguebooking is the equivalent of sitting with people and sighing loudly until someone asks you what’s wrong. Don’t go fishing for attention and sympathy. Be direct- “I’m having a really bad day and could use someone to talk to”- totally fine and upfront. “This thing happened and I won’t go into details but it was bad”- just no.

2) Don’t splash your bad mood all over everyone else.

In a similar vein to rule 1. Don’t make your unhappiness someone else’s problem.

3) Remember other people can see what you write.

It may sound like I’m teaching your grandmother to suck eggs but you would be surprised how many people forget that their posts are public. Or that their friends-only posts can be screencapped. Nothing on the internet ever really goes away, and it’s just another form of gossip. And it WILL get back to the person you’re talking about. If you forget that your posts are public, then they’ll likely be able to read it right from your own wall. Don’t say anything about someone on social media that you wouldn’t say to their face because, chances are, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

4) Use your powers for good

If someone puts up a photo of themselves with a new haircut, say something nice. Or if they put up a photo of their kids doing something cute, say so. Or like that s***. Wish them happy birthday. Share things that make you smile. Put links on your friends’ walls saying ‘hey, this made me think of you!’. There are so many ways to be kind and positive on Facebook. Liking a photo of someone’s new look can be a real boost to their confidence.

5) Remember- it’s a tool

Complicated? Sure. Ever-changing? You bet. But it’s just a tool. It’s not a replacement for actual interactions. It makes some things easier. But remember, you’re the one in charge of how you use it.

So use it wisely.