Facebook: So Many Possibilities, So Little Guidance

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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7 Responses to Facebook: So Many Possibilities, So Little Guidance

  1. CarolineA says:

    This is EXACTLY why I refuse to have anything more to do with Facebook! Plus its security issues which are still plentiful! Which is why I don’t want any Facebook “friends” who carelessly allow their contacts list to be harvested, then spammed. Or worse.
    What I have learned from Facebook is that the only email addresses I keep in my online contacts list are those of people silly enough to spam me, and the US and UK anti-spam authorities email addresses, along with my personal email address so I know if/when I have been targeted for an email account hi-jack. Spammers are welcome to those details, but not the details of my real friends, whether in cyberspace or not.

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      That sounds like a really sound strategy–something I never thought of. Thanks!

  2. Katie Holmes says:

    I think you covered my biggest Facebook pet peeve in your previous post, but I’ll share, since you asked. πŸ™‚ Can. NOT. STAND(!) people that air their frustrations or conflicts with people in their Facebook status!! Had a coworker do that to me the other day! If I offend you, world, then please, PLEASE, for the love of social networking, contact me (face-to-face perhaps?) and fill me in! I would love to make it right, rather than “listening” to all of the comments of people who are not involved making unfair generalizations about me and a situation they know nothing about! So that’s the end of my small rant!

    Thanks for posting these messages on social networking! It can get a bit overwhelming with all of the sites that are now available. Can’t wait for the next one! πŸ™‚

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry you have to actually work with someone who would do that! How unpleasant. Here’s a hug: X And thanks for sharing your pet peeve!

      • Katie Holmes says:

        Thanks. Found out later on that he’s really just that kind of guy…and he’s done it to other people. It was a good lesson for me in standing firm on what I believe and not allowing another person’s opinion define me. Win. πŸ™‚

  3. Facebook spam is SO annoying, but I have found that if you keep marking them as spam, they do tend to disappear.

    But I DO love Facebook! Luckily my Friends have all been well behaved and have played nicely!