Proper Facebook Etiquette

#281 Running with the ex

Monday 13th August, 2007

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Recently I split with my Facebook and real-life boyf. Now we remain as ‘friends’ on Facebook, but I find myself ‘just checking’ what he is up to. Should I ‘de-friend’ him? And what are the rules of etiquette and to preserve my sanity here?

Where once you were one, now you are two and for all the world to see too, well in so far as all the world are connected to your Facebook profile. No matter how wonderful a relationship and ‘mature’ and amicable the subsequent split, very naturally there will still be lurking in the back of your mind a desire (need) to find out what they are up to. On Facebook you get this in glorious digital vision – streamed directly to your own newsfeed – how convenient, and yet how unsettling if you are trying to manage your new single life and disassociate yourself from that particular relationship status.

Single and free, does not do neurotic and desperate. There is a fine line.

Recently a friend of mine who split from their beloved felt saddened and marred by the ‘400 friends’ that their ex were connected to. Hard not to feel so competitive where affairs of the heart are concerned. But lets not turn this forum into a MySpace ‘they’ve got more friends than me, friend-farm war’. Keep in mind that status is not how many friends have they got, but recognition that they do not really have time for all ‘those’ ‘friends’ AND your too busy with your life to care anyway (well that’s the approach to adopt). As for whether you should remain ‘befriended’ on Facebook does rather depend on the split itself. A case of uncovering less than salacious details of their personal life and wanting to burn all their processions, probably time to cut them off. A ‘this isn’t working’ situation – well you’ll probably want to stay ‘in touch’ just to see what does work for them after all. Oh and make sure they know what’s ‘working’ for you too.

Unlike ‘real’, offline life on Facebook you do not have to worry about accidently running (physically) into your ex. You can handle your encounters in a very caustic style that keeps the whisperings, worrying and crying to a minimum. Suddenly you’re the expert of when they are online, what they are doing etc. Before this becomes obsessive maybe best to place their link to you onto the limited newsfeed setting and limited profile setting. That way you can stay ‘informed’ but not indecently fixated on another’s life.

During any moments of self-doubt, weakness and glass of wine combined with laptop fuelled moment to ‘just’ poke, wall post, message an ex, perhaps best save such actions for the daylight ‘non-desperate’ hours. Its perfectly natural to want to know what is going on in their life, but you are in danger of` extending an unnecessary ‘courtesy’ by constantly surveilling them and ‘offering’ the news of the latest events of your life. Think carefully about what your actions may reveal, graciousness and a certain amount of propriety will give you the upper hand – and keep your sanity!

Not to mention that showing how ‘fine’ you are that you are no longer involved with one another will beat their ‘400 friends’ rank every time and may make them question their sanity instead!

8 Responses to “#281 Running with the ex”

  1. <a href="">OnlinePharmacy</a> says:

    YGQBIa Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

  2. Sue says:

    Interesting post – Have new (work) mobile – dilemma is do I Facebook itie set it up to get into Facebook things (which it could) or is this too obsessive?

  3. MayFace says:

    I can now get Facebook on my iPhone – Shiny Shiny say that – ‘It’s not a full version, since you can’t access groups or any of those annoying apps everyone has on their pages, but you can send and receive status updates, see profiles and access your inbox through the Safari browser. And that’s what Facebook was built for, punk.’
    So do I want this or will it put even more pressure on me to Facebook my life?

  4. Maz Hardey says:


    Some really interesting issues around trust that you have bought up. As a social scientist this reminds of Simmel’s stuff on the ‘stranger’ and Freud’s (1919) notion of the Uncanny (a great and very readable essay if you ever get the chance!) .

    In terms of user id this is about how comfortable the user is ‘online’ – especially as you need not be that ‘savvy’ a web user to have membership on SNS’s – its just an easy point and cliick action right! poss why they are so popular!

    In terms of corporate secutiry risk(S) this has resonances with the recent withdrawal of certain advertisers from Facebook who did not approve of the pages that their ads were posted. (Funny i didn’t approve of some of the ads posted to my page!).

    More recently the company 118 118 (UK Dir enq no.) has sacked employees after they shared and disclosed client information on a FB group. All information was ‘anon’, but you have to wonder if the employees went to such lengths to anon their postings and comunications, why did they not extend this to their own id in the group – or even keep the group ‘secret’ between only members rather than a ‘public forum’. This is where the problems between security, disclosure, information, publiic and private settings become greyed and merge into one another.

    This is also a large potential pool for private and corporate law. one wonders who shall be sued first. not least i wonder what would happen if you had contact from someone whom you had a restraining order against, or an ‘absent’ parents surveillance of their child. interesting issues. something for users to be aware of, and i suspect ultimately police as FB tries to implement means and measures to keep its users ‘safe’ from one another, mis-use of information and 3rd party ‘abuse’….

  5. Angie says:

    All thus shows people trust too easily as the Sophos study shows = Sophos fabricated a Facebook profile and asked 200 Facebook users at random to give up personal information. Sophos says its probe involved setting up a profile page for “Freddi Stauer,” an anagram for “ID Fraudster,” displaying a small green plastic frog that divulged personal information about the fictitious Freddi. Using Freddi as the front, Sophos sent out 200 friend requests to find out how many people would respond and what kind of personal information could be collected from the Facebook users.Out of the 200 friend requests, Sophos received 82 responses, with 72 percent of those respondents divulging one or more e-mail address; 84 percent listing their full date of birth; 87 percent providing details about education or work; 78 percent listing their current address or location; 23 percent giving their phone number; and 26 percent providing their instant messaging screen name.
    Most people wouldn’t give this kind of information out to people on the street but their guard sometimes seems to drop in the context of a friend request on the Facebook site, O’Brien says.

    According to Sophos, the results of what it calls its Facebook ID Probe has significance for the workplace as well as personal life because businesses need to be aware that this type of social-networking site may pose a threat to corporate security.

  6. Maz Hardey says:


    agree that ‘over-exposure’ of the information kind is an ‘easy’ mistake to make. And you are right to point out that this does seem to be a ‘penache’ of MySpace users – perhaps an ‘easy’Space would be more suitable for a label?…

  7. Anonymous says:

    It is simple – do not put things on these sites that u don’t want to be embarrassing. Not difficult after all who goes into a bar and shouts out to all ‘I’m easy’ or whatever – which is just what you can see people do on MySpace

  8. Anonymous says:

    So Agree. I am (now) very careful about allowing a boyfriend into my Facebook circles. Gives them power over you which I don’t like and what’s with all this ‘oh me a person – no a couple’ ? Dated guy at U (ho lived back home few 100 miles away) and he watched all my Facebook moments. Like I had to explain myself to him and I become a Facebook prisoner. Dumped him but so hard to get him out of my Facebook life!
    My advice be careful they are odd ones out there and they are very hard to spot. Keep Facebook close to you!

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