Proper Facebook Etiquette

#289 Rules and Meaning

Monday 29th October, 2007

Sharing URL

confused by the new ‘moral order’ of social networking, I wonder if there are any social conventions that I should be aware?

Never before has social media allowed us to remain so connected, and yet in part so potentially disconnected, or rather disassociated from one another. The realignment of social actions mediated across Facebook presents a confusing mass of information arrays to get to grips with. Aghhh how many status updates in one day! So explaining the ‘real’ motivation, or consequence behind that poke, post, message etc is about being in tune with the modification of social behaviour and awareness of existing behaviour models of contact. Confused… well that’s all part of the fun!

Amongst all these signals of contact, nothing is worse than someone who claims to be your ‘friend’ and nay you have accepted as a friend into your network, but is in fact faker than those status updates that claim to be about their new modelling career. What is being cultivated on SNS is a digital presence, not just a way to keep in touch, but a means to provide the basis for collective social contact, a busy hub of the to-ing and fro-ing of communication if you will. Here authenticity is an important thing. This provides the key that people are who they say they are. Informally this is agreed upon when you accept someone as a friend. By confirming that they ‘exist’ as part of your network you are impressing upon them a status that signals to others that you think they are ‘ok’ and therefore appear as trustworthy to others. Of course it’s a shame when you inadvertently friend a bit of a sh*t in real life, they invariably turn out to be this way as part of your digital network too. Lesson learnt.

The rules for cultivating a genuine connection on SNS appear as a subtle blend of unconscious ‘gestures’ and interactions. Take the initial friend request. An invitation to accept the ‘rank’ of friend in a given network and set of relations. The procedure from here-on-in may be peppered with zombie attacks, shares, ilikes and messages some of which are welcomed, others that seem more annoying and time consuming than their actual content. How long did it take me to accept that Grow a Gift application. Thanks.

Assuredly these little interaction displays are of great social weight and provide possible meaning of your relationship and status in relation to that person. The ‘friend’ that takes it upon themselves to rate you in their Hotness application on a daily basis, is probably not overly concerned on your daily thoughts and feelings and just has a perchance for neglecting to remember to unselect their friend directory when using the application with others. Pah.

So before you arises some personal piques of friendship sustainability; why is this person in your network for example is a good question. Nothing says ‘we have nothing in common’ like a un-reciprocated wall post or message, or their preferences, tolerances and neglects in terms of communication. Perhaps these got lost in the ethos of Facebookness, or they are too busy attending to their various Zombie infections.

So ask yourself this as you navigate your way through SNS what is the real motivation behind your connections and what role does this play in my connections to my friends? Social networknig is wonderful at creating the architecture to know ‘what’s going on’, what they do not provide are the explanations for modified social behaviours (you’re unlikely to cultivate a ‘grow a gift’ application outside of Facebook) that can generate confusion and modify social action. Frequently you may find yourself asking ‘what does this all mean?!”

The reason for this simple; as individual friendships are moving from a one-on-one point communication to en mass and broadcast public display friendships become divorced from the previous boundaries of ‘just’ embodied or in-person encounters. Now there’s the possibility for collective and shared connections that stimulate a realignment of interactions and even social occasion. On SNS you are ‘talking’ in entirely different terms compared to your offline interactions and may lose sight of what important social standards are. Remember that not all the social rules have changed, trust your gut! social instinct is a wonderful thing and the more you are immersed within new media, the more refined your judgement and ability.

Just an excuse to check that newsfeed again…

5 Responses to “#289 Rules and Meaning”

  1. ManU says:

    Trusting guts sounds a tad unscientific to me! Where do we get that sense of ‘should do this – not that’ from? Past experience but also appropriately learning from others. So Facebook might be one big neighborhood where I can pop nextdoor to borrow advice. My grandparents live in back-to-back Norther terraces where you could not escape the local gossip but they have a romantic view of this (outside bog, one fire…a slum) because they belonged and liked the way everything was shared. So Facebook as oldtimes Mancherster? :)

  2. Maz Hardey says:


    I think that individuals of a such a connected and immersed social media generation of content are reluctant, to entertain the notion of Fakers, David Lyon’s work on surveillance has some really good contexts for how larger scale institutions are of fundamental influence to what ‘we’ constantly assume to be small-scale and therefore ‘informal’ and ‘uninnteresting’ to coporations/governments etc.

    A healthy balance about the organisation of information is what is require in such new social contexts…

    i’ll blog about this soon, just as soon as i make sure BB isn’t watching my back!


  3. Maz Hardey says:


    oh the happy days of IRC, remember when you had to wait for a reciprocated reply… now its newsfeeds that ‘offer’ up infomration about friends and in ways perhaps that friends are not aware of ! not to mention the ‘stalking’ possibilities!

    in one w/e i ‘found out’ that 4 of my Facebook friends had become ‘in a relationship’ whatever that means on FB… mind boggles how much information we are ‘fed’ and have to digest…

    fun thoughts that we have such a ‘new world’ of social relationshps! something the Fakers, movers and shakers provide new contexts and point of reference for!


  4. Anonymous says:

    I like the idea of lots of unreal people networking like the old newsgroup days but the realized that this might be going on in those online games :)

  5. GP says:

    The last time I got hooked on to something on internet was 10-11 years back when I started knowing ICQ!! A whole world opened in front of me through IRCs. Those contacts I made at that time still remain my friends, but it didnt open up the oppurtunity for my friends to know about each other as its possible through SNS.

    Now from their mood swings to “I feel sexy” statements a new world is opening up in social relationship.

    From fake IDs, the net seems to growing towards networking between genuine people.

    Well written! Keep writing!

Leave a Reply