Proper Facebook Etiquette

#221 Monkey say, monkey do

Thursday 5th July, 2007

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My parents have always said that you can learn a lot about a person by looking at who they associate with. Is it appropriate for me to look through my friends friendship listings?

Absolutely. Your only human, and besides this is what social networking is all about, searching, finding out about friends and networks. Also you can pass judgement to your little hearts content. Questions such as ‘how many friends do they really have?’, ‘where are most of their friends, i.e. same network as you, or multiple networks etc.’, ‘Are any family relations online too?’ and so on and so forth. Remember though as you are searching and ‘judging’ their lists they are doing the same to yours.

My father has always given great advice, mostly informed by male practical commonsense-ness and it strikes me that such a construct is a good place to start when navigating Facebook.

Every single member will be making decisions about who to friend and how. The majority of primary connections will be with those friends that you are already bonded to offline, as time goes by more often than not friend requests will fill with those ‘average Jo’ types who are friends of friends, or someone that you have met randomly. Connections that have tagged you in photos from a night out or were sick in your shoes at the taxi rank. Folks you know by sight and want to stay in touch with, but not always in a first hand ‘they have my mobile number kind of way’.

To avoid making mistakes in the modern world, we have each been bought up with a set of social ‘rules’ that allowed us to survive those first few days at a new school, job, and chatting up that rather fanciable individual at the bar. In each social situation we peel back the layers of ourselves to go out on a limb and connect to someone else. On Facebook we do not necessarily have to ‘dig a little deeper’, we can hit a button and hope that the person contacted acts in kind.

If an individual does not know how to handle themselves properly or deliberately seeks to cause offence; posting obscene material, using rude or foul language and the like then you are within your rights, and power to deny any kind of association with them.

Do not be a wimp about such disassociations, would you give this kind of individual the time of day offline, no. Then you should impose the same kind of criteria online. This should help to establish some guidelines of self-respect and type of behaviour that you expect from ‘friends’ in your network. Transparency is a great beacon to help steer potentially awkward situations.

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