Friends and Facebook Etiquette…

I really wasn’t aware that there was facebook etiquette untill I spoke to a close friend of mines. She was annoyed that I was offending people on her Facebook by talking to them. Yes, it’s true. 

Apparently I have offended them by addressing them directly on her Facebook page in comments. Now correct me if I’m wrong but if someone puts up a status or tags you in a picture and it results in a discussion of about two plus people, are you meant to pretend they are not there? Or are you meant to act like you are the only one there talking to this one person? Can you not offer your educated reply or offer a bit of your own wit and charm to an on going conversation? 

According to her if you don’t know the person you do not talk to them and should only address her and only her! As we were discussing this on the phone last night I had this sad sinking feeling that perhaps I had  said something really bad to these people without realising it. She insisted it wasn’t anything bad or rude or offensive that I had said, but if you don’t know someone  you don’t address them or comment on their comments. 

I honestly thought I had missed something really important here. It was like I had missed out on a generation of growing up and things had changed and I just hadn’t clocked on. 

First I was a bit embarrassed and then I had to laugh. I told her that darling we just don’t take Facebook that seriously and it’s not the be all and end all either. These pages of yours are public to everyone you have added there and once added it’s an automatic assumption that you are free to comment on each other because quite frankly we have the option to do so. And when I’m addressed on facebook by someome I dont know i’m no way offended in anway, just pleased that someone thinks my comment was worthy of a reply and someone has joined in on something we are talking about. I told her that sometimes it can be a really pleasant experience if you just chilled and enjoyed it. 

Seriously though I am  wondering what small minded over pompous people she has on her Facebook and I totally felt that as much as I thought I knew her, perhaps I don’t know her at all. It’s certainly made me step back and question my friendship with her and if it’s really worth anything if she had to bring this up and make such an issue of it. 

Anyway having said that I do have a lot of respect for her and I had to respect the fact that for her (and everybody else on her bloody Facebook!)  this was an issue and she decided to bring it up and let me know how she was feeling about it. We have not fallen out over this and I think if anything I might have got to know her a bit more than I wanted to. But our friendship goes to back to our school days so it was important that we talk about it like adults, understand where each other were coming from and move on. Which we have done, still stings a bit but I’m sure in time it will fade. 

She called it Facebook etiquette, which I never knew existed apart from the usual and obvious rules that apply to social networking etc. So, me being me decided to look this up and see what I could find and if this sort of stuff really did exist and how come I don’t know about it. 

Needless to say there is lots there about how to use Facebook and etiquette but nothing about what i’ve just written about. |I searched quite a bit and have found nothing. So if anyone there knows something I don’t know please feel free to tell me.

Meanwhile let me share what I did find as there are some rules you should follow but nothing as severe as the one I got told off for 😛

 Message private matters instead of posting on wall… As much as you may have exhibitionistic tendencies and wants everyone to know your most intimate secrets, others may not share the same inclination. Your friends might not take it too kindly when you post what they did last night at your house party, or any other stuff which are understood to be kept between your closest friends.

The fact is that most of their Facebook friends will hear about it in such a public platform. The walls indeed have ears, especially so for the Facebook Wall. Best to keep these conversations behind closed doors inFacebook Messaging.

Be Mindful Of What You Post… When you have hundreds of friends and acquaintances in Facebook, you have people from all kinds of backgrounds, all with different jobs, beliefs, personalities, etc. Updating your status with a general statement may seem harmless to you, but others may read it in a different light. For example, you make a remark about how advertisers con unsuspecting consumers into buying something they don’t need.

What you may not realize is that some of your friends in the advertising industry could see your status in their newsfeed. It’s a general statement, but they might think you are targeting them. Of course, it’s not going to be any fun if you’re going to consider all the possible misinterpretations before you post anything, but just bemindful of it.

Call Rather Than Post Personal News… This isn’t just Facebook etiquette; it’s social etiquette or even common sense. If you need to inform your friends or your family about some important and personal news (e.g. death in the family), don’t declare it out in the public domain. Facebook is a social networking site; it’s supposed to be public. This means that people can know what happened.

The other reason not to post is courtesy. It’s the same reason why you shouldn’t use SMS (or even the phone) to break up with someone. It’s rude and insincere to break important news, be it good or bad ones, without having some form of genuine communication through voice tones and body languages.

Reply To Comments Especially If They Are Questions… You post a status, and your friends make comments and ‘like’ it. I guess the least you can do is to acknowledge them by replying something, especially when they are questions directed to you. I’m not saying you should do it for the sake of doing it, but add on to their comments once in awhile. If you ignore them all the time, chances are that they won’t bother about your status anymore, lest they look silly talking to a wall. It’s almost karma.

Avoid Posting Comments On Every Post… If you’re stalking your friend, leave it at that. Don’t make it a habit to make some comment on everything your friends post or they’ll start to get suspicious. Even if you say with all honesty that you are not stalking them, it’s not going to be easy for them to believe that their status updates always appear on your newsfeed.

It’s open secret that everyone checks out their friends’ profile every now and then, but to comment on everything is to admit that you are constantly checking out on them. What is even worse is that your friend’s friends might notice as well, seeing that you are a ‘regular’ commenter. If you don’t wish to be labeled a pest, try to limit your comments somewhat.

Be Careful Of Your Tone… As with all other on-line communication, communicating in Facebook is mostly textual. We can neither hear the voice tone nor see the body language when the other person ‘speaks’. In other words, it’s easy for someone to think you are being sarcastic when you are not, or misunderstand you in any other manner for that matter. To complicate things, everyone has their own typing style.

One way we can compensate for the lack of cues is to use emoticons. It’s pretty limited, but experience has taught me that a simple smiley face after a sentence can do wonders by neutralizing any potential tension. Smile and the whole world smiles with you 🙂

Don’t… Make Friend Requests To Strangers… Some people have this idea that the number of ‘friends’ you have in Facebook is a status of your popularity in real-life. That may be true if these ‘friends’ are people whom you know offline, and not strangers whom you randomly add while browsing through the Facebook network.

The idea becomes warped when people add friends merely for the sake of boosting their ‘popularity indicator’ among their peers. That’s not cool. But if you wish to add someone for some valid reason, like to get to know this girl you have a crush on, do so with some introduction or through a mutual friend. Skipping that step only leaves a bad impression of you, which is the last thing you want.

Don’t… Tag Your Friends In ‘Unglam’ Shots… Guys may take it lightly when they are tagged in photos that look as if they just woke up from the bed, thinking that it’s a joke pulled off by their friends. When it comes to gals though, appearing ‘unglam’ means a lot more to them. Of course, this applies to some guys as well. What you need to take from this rule is to be sensitive of who you might be tagging in photos, especially those shots which are obviously awfully taken.

Don’t… Overshare Yourself… Checking out the updates on your news feed, you see the same friend updating his status over and over again. Not any insightful ones, but just posts about what he’s doing every ten minutes. How exciting. You decide to hide his posts.

Sounds familiar? Probably. It’s annoying because no one is really interested in their friends’ everyday mundane activities, yet it just keeps popping out in their updates. Spice up your status updates a little. Instead of telling your friends you’re in the can taking a leak, share something interesting about yourself.

Don’t… Vent About Your Work… Facebook is a double-edged sword when it comes to its social networking capability. The boon is that it enables us to connect in an unprecedented manner with friends of friends of friends through the identification of mutual friendships. On the other hand, the bane is that there’s easily a way to gather information about you by passing through such layer one-by-one.

Even with your most stringent privacy settings, there’s still a risk that what you post can reach people you wouldn’t want it to reach, and your co-workers and boss are the last people you want to mess with. So, just play safe and leave your venting to somewhere private.

Don’t… Post Chain Status Updates… Remember those chain e-mails that demand you to forward to all of your friends or you’ll die a horrible, horrible death? Well, Facebook has a similar kind of chain, but usually for a good cause. Someone first post a status update about a social cause, encouraging those who read it to post the status too, so that their friends will get to read it and post it as well. This chain thus spread the cause, raising public awareness.

The intention here is right, but sometimes too much of a good thing isn’t good. When you see your newsfeed updates filled with the same status, you get annoyed instead, and you associate your negative emotion to that social cause.

Don’t… Flame Others… Everyone is entitled to state their own opinion on the free internet, so there’s no need to put anyone down just because you disagree (or worse, don’t like the person).  Sometimes I even see people criticizing the comments of their friend’s friend who replied to the post, whom they don’t even know. It’s embarrassing not only to yourself, but to your friend as well.

In the spirit of good conversations, let’s keep this in mind in whatever communication we have online, in Facebook, forums, emails, etc. Don’t ruin it for everyone.

At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to us to follow these etiquette rules. I guess it’s about finding the balance between  being fun and sensitive to everyone. On one hand, we shouldn’t restrict ourselves with rules and regulations that would limit our creativity and spontaneousness of our social interactions. On the other hand, we ought to be aware of the publicness of Facebook to protect our privacy and at the same time respect the fact that each one of us forms part of the Facebook experience of everyone else. Find that right balance and you’ll not only better that experience yourself, but also help others enjoy it as well! And not be so uptight about things like who addressed who! 

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9 responses to “Friends and Facebook Etiquette…

    • na babes never take anything to do with a virtual life so seriously.. its not worth it… yeah we should respect all friendships and relationships where ever they are and never go out of our way to hurt anyone. but to take it so seriously that it takes over your real life is wrong.. but having said that facebook is real and i sometimes its the root of most evil 😛

      • I do take it seriousy because facebook is nothing but a synecdoche, it’s a big world ,May be you see it as a stupid page but I don’t, it’s a silver gate to a land where you can find the most amazing people that you have always wished to meet .I met severals and I take their friendship seriously ,if they don’t then I have to respect that because it must be one of their etiquettes.

  1. “etiquettes”um,I think that ” modern man coined the word etiquettes to beautify the word “chains” or cuffs because like chains etiquettes”limit our creativity and spontanousness of our social interaction” .umm,may be that’s why we find insane people the funniesr, and the most spontanous as they don’t give or don’t have to give heed to etiquettes.Facebook etiquettes, well ,I have my own,you have your own here ,let’s say they are terms of our social interaction contract ,or virtual friendship contract ,and I believe it’s good to let others know about it before signing his friend request to avoid misunderstanding later on. 🙂 I love this article it’s thought provoking and it deals with many issues 🙂

    • yeah cuffs sounds just about right… i totally agree that there are certain rules to social networking that you should follow. Like for instance being polite etc and but some things are just totally stupid. 😦

  2. Absolutely brilliant Aneesa…LOVE different verity of writing:)A must say if anyone with an interesting idea is you….

  3. Uh just a request -.- can you keep the font at a constant size? Kinda I don’t know how to explain bt it kinda gets on my nerves… -.- anyways lol the not talking on comments is very common -.- esp if your addressing the opposite gender, God knows why but suddenly everyone is so protective -.-” and all the above things can be avoided by just adding round about 40 to 60 people you know really well =P and i just realized i follow all the above things except for well flaming… gotta love flaming xD

  4. Ok the font size isn’t deliberate… and not my doing either.. it’s just the way that part of the post was copy and pasted… no matter what i did i couldn’t change the font size.. and i was too lazy to delete and re-write 😛
    but as you can see the original part of this post’s font is consistent… which is the first part and last paragharph.. 😛

    I think when we use facebook we have two types of friends we add there.. one is the people we know and one is the random adds… i think with random adds we behave differently than with the people we know….. I will talk to anyone and everyone because that’s what I always do.. i enjoy a lively discussion or debate… But where I know people have family and relatives on their facebook I will be more aware of what I’m saying…

    But I have noticed on some peoples fb’s if they don’t know someone they keep well away… but having said that… there is no need to flip over it or get offended if someone is addressing you in comments.. i mean what the hell…

    Flaming is the best… lol It;s a passion … 😛

  5. You really took some time on this but I can’t agree more. Although, you failed to mentioned one of the biggest mistakes, yet and that is “Apologizing on Facebook” or should I say making it seem like you’re apologizing so you can have a audience sympathizing with you, one sentence “Playing the victim card”..In my mind the majority of facebook needs some sort of facebook etiquette and lets not get things twisted here..I’m no Etiquette Queen but common sense usually helps!

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