I don’t use Facebook “the right way.” I know this because it has been pointed out to me. I have been de-friended in an amazingly methodical fashion, in which I was sent a note explaining exactly why I was unsuitable friend material. I have also received rather unsubtle hints about the ways I should use it better.
I sound cavalier because, frankly, if you try to use Facebook in a way that pleases everyone all the time, it will eat up every single spare moment of every single day of your life, and you still won’t please everyone and they’ll STILL be griping at you about what you should do more of/differently/less of.
So I don’t know Facebook Rules. What I do know are the things we talk about amongst ourselves that just drive us nuts. By “we” here I mean people who spend a lot of their time (i.e., all day long, day after day) online for work, checking blogs and walls and websites and Etsy shops. We’re on Facebook, and we have Friends, in the Facebook sense, and we try to stay in touch with what’s going on and keep up with the lives and projects and travels of people we know, if only online and through interviews and podcasts, and we try, oh, we try, to stay calm. But, oh, my. Sometimes, Facebook? Sometimes it can make us tear our hair (those of us who have hair to tear). Today was a perfect example and, honestly, the straw that broke this camel’s back. I get email notifications about Facebook messages because there are some few people, artists with whom I periodically need to get in touch, who do most of their online communicating via Facebook messages. So that’s why I’m set up to receive notifications: I need to know when these people need to get in touch. But today I got four messages in a row from someone whose name I didn’t recognize about some contest I’ve never heard of, with a “reply all” field of many names, most of them Names of Famous People You Would Recognize. Some of these messages were incomprehensible, as if someone had typed them on their smartphone while driving down the interstate at a high rate of speed. Then, of course, I also got notifications about the replies from all the other people who were spammed with these messages.
Yeah, I said spammed. Because while Facebook does not consider mass-messaging to be spamming, since you’re sending to people who are supposed to be your friends, I do. So do a whole bunch of other people who are online not for fun, not to keep up with far-flung friends and family, but, first and foremost, to work.
Now, I know that many people, maybe most people, use Facebook to stay in touch with people they actually know In Real Life. That’s what it’s meant for–that’s what those college guys had in mind. Well, that and meeting hot chicks. (When I get irritated at Facebook, I keep in mind its origins as an online meat market, and that makes it easier to take.)
But back to my point, which was: if you use Facebook for friends and family, great. You can do pretty much whatever you want, and no one will whinge at you. But there are many, many of us who use it to stay in touch with people with whom we work–to find out what people are doing, to read their linked blog posts, to see new photo uploads–and we would really, really appreciate it if you’d think before you jump in there and start messaging and tagging and uploading photos of people you caught wearing a goofy look and a little tiny bit of spinach between their teeth at the International Quilt Show.
Because this is getting kind of long, I’ll come back on Friday and post a list of gentle hints and suggestions for how to keep from irritating the very people you might want to encourage to think well of you. In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment telling us your own Facebook pet peeves–surely we’re not alone~~
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