Q: It seems that there is an unwritten ethical code for Facebook. Can you outline how to Facebook in a way that is socially savvy rather than sleazy?
Facebook is made for seventh grade girls and creepy stalkers — or, more accurately, for the seventh grade girl and creepy stalker that exist in each of us. The proof of this hypothesis came to me when I had a not-so-minor heart attack upon hearing a rumor that people were being alerted every time someone (specifically creepy thirteen year old stalker me) looked at their profile.
This obviously false bit of gossip should not have left me in need of resuscitation, but the uncomfortable truth is that sometimes I spend six hours straight looking through photo albums of people I met at dances back when I spent more time with my orthodontist than, well, anyone else. I confess; I have an unhealthy inclination to achieve a state of semi-unconsciousness by looking at (and passing judgment on) an endless parade of the profiles of friends of friends of friends of friends.
This is not good. I do not recommend it. You should not follow my lead, or you’ll probably end up with a restraining order and carpal tunnel. And I maintain that Facebook is not a great social networking tool because if you don’t leave your room it’s not social. Nonetheless, if used correctly, Facebook can be a procrastinator’s delight and a great way to show off all of your charm and good looks to those who knew you when your mouth was full of metal and you were in love with Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
So here are the rules, in order of importance. The first, and most crucial, is that you should not sign on to anyone else’s Facebook account, because doing so actually proves that you are a terrible person. Every teen drama of the 80s and 90s had that episode where the boy reads the girl’s diary (Facebook message inbox of olden days), and she finds out. For those who were not “Dawson’s Creek” fans, I will summarize: it never ended well. Let this mistake die with the WB.
Photos on Facebook pose many difficult dilemmas. No one wants the hotties he/she met in darkened corner of some frat house to cringe when they see his/her profile picture. I cannot stress enough, however, that this does not give you the right to take black and white photos of yourself wearing nothing but Wishlist lingerie, gazing longingly into the mirror.
Some nitpickers claim that people with childhood photographs as their profile pictures are ugly. To them I say: Peaking at age seven is not a crime. And then there is the tagged by you/tagged by others ratio to fret over on those sleepless nights where your status is “Emma Allen is Zzzzz….” My answer: Tag yourself. Do it with abandon. Why? Every beer-clutching, shiny-face-in-need-of-a-Stridex-wipe, grinding-with-that-hairy-guy photo needs to be balanced out with a pretty photo (Photo Booth pictures don’t count, although sepia is becoming).
What happens if you have navigated the photography conundrum so well that you snagged a significant other? Don’t let it all go just yet (by which I mean the full-time maintenance your slim and sleek profile). You still have the relationship status hurdle to run into and then trip over.
First, everyone knows that you are not dating your roommate, so that’s got to go because it’s not cute. But once that’s done, do not, under any circumstances get tricked into a Facebook relationship with your real special someone. When you break up everyone knows. Everyone will watch your slow and pathetic mini-feed descent into “It’s complicated,” “No longer in a relationship,” “Single,” and “Destined to die alone.”
Finally, a word on Applications: avoid them. Unless, of course, you would like to add the Abe Vigoda status, which only says if he is alive or dead. But in general, if I haven’t talked to you in six years, I don’t want to be attacked by your zombie (as if the poke was not enough of a violation).
Summary: Facebook karma dictates that if you abuse your Facebook privileges your mother will get an account and stalk you. So follow my rules.
Emma Allen is your friend. You hooked up in 1943, and it was hot. You were members of TEAM ME N EMMA 4 EVA BITCHEZZ. You know each other through scene.