If ten years ago, anyone had told me that one single social media platform would not only link almost every website on the net, but also serve as most people’s calendar of events, means of communication and indeed, link to the social world, I wouldn’t have taken you seriously. Today, as I see people logging into Facebook from their mobile phones on the street, chatting on Facebook messenger while on the bus, filming themselves on live video cam at restaurants and immediately turning to that irresistible blue and white page whenever they’ve nothing to do, I realise that it’s come to dominate each and every instance of most peoples’ lives.
We chat, we flirt, we debate, we argue. We become members of groups of like-minded people, poke prospective dates, engage in sarcastic political banter, share photos of us cooking, trying out clothes, and staring at mirrors in public toilets. Every new trend is in because it’s popular on Facebook. If you don’t post a record of something you did in real life on your news feed, then it never happened.
This is life today. And whether Facebook is merely a tool which makes us more connected to one another over vast distances of time and space, or whether it’s a means of division which promotes interactive relationships instead of actual palpable bonding, the fact remains that Facebook is here to stay.
Like any other form of communication, indeed perhaps more than most, communicating through social media often incurs misunderstandings. Many people seem to disregard a number of specific rules of etiquette and manners which, although not official, are nonetheless unspoken rules by the majority of Facebook users. To be sure, the unspoken rule is a strange beast, as it obviously doesn’t apply to everyone and depends on the case or situation. However, I feel safe enough in saying that at least some of the manners of conduct below should be kind of obvious to everyone.
Don’t update your status every 5 minutes. Yes, you wore the red dress instead of the blue. You spent 15 minutes waiting for the bus in the heat. You went to Valletta for an appointment. You were late. Then you ate a burger. And afterwards an ice cream. Yes, you’re having a good time, we get it. Or do we?
People who spend their time trying so hard to portray a perfect life and convincing strangers on social media of this are those who either feel very lonely or who actually need to prove something to themselves. This kind of behaviour generally annoys most people who end up unfollowing you, which in the end defeats the purpose, as you end up losing friends instead of making them.
Don’t focus on private quarrels in your statuses, especially to get back at a partner or an ex. You’re not showing the world what an ass they are, but just showing how bitter you feel about the whole thing. It’s none of our business. Plus it just ferments gossip.
Don’t post random impulsive heartbroken rants when you’re drunk. Seriously, just don’t.
Private matters should remain private. If you have something intimate or personal to talk about with a friend, send them a private message instead of blurting it all out on their wall.
Think before you post. If you have a multitude of Facebook friends – most of whom are probably acquaintances or indeed total strangers – these probably come from different social, ethnic or cultural backgrounds. It’s best not to hurt anybody or provoke unwarranted attacks, so try to be considerate before sharing rude memes.
Take everything with a pinch of salt! Not every vague or snide status or meme is targeting you personally. Remember that everyone has their own life and you’re not the centre of it. So, just smile, grab your sense of humour and stop taking everything so seriously!