Proper Facebook Etiquette

#302 Potato, Potaaaato, let’s call the whole thing off.

Saturday 8th December, 2007

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What modes of communication are most appropriate on Facebook when you’re in a relationship?

What you are dealing with here are interactions and communication that are multi-layered and at the level of micro-mangement actually quite complex. Made more complex by the stage of, seriousness and type of relationship that you have with someone.

Put simply though, if you are ‘in a relationship’ with someone any kind of communication, Facebook or otherwise, is ‘appropriate’. The point is that you ARE communicating, and that’s what a relationship is all about. That and once in a while seeing the other person naked.

However, where there are different levels of ‘communication strategies’ is when we take into account the type of relationship that is being fostered. For example, how partners communicate with one another who are long-term, compared to ‘new’ couples is dependent on the kinds of individuals they are and the relationship that they share.

Flirting is a strong component of this. Everyone flirts. And now it seems that ‘everyone’ is also on Facebook.

‘Real’ meanings and ‘grand gestures’ via a Facebook poke are not a Facebook relationship going to make. No-one is ever going to convey ‘real’ meaning in such a broadcast setting. Unless its F*-off you yob, but that’s a completely different kind of social disengagement and communication mechanism.

Asking someone out with a view to having a relationship with that person takes on a new range of social meaning in the Facebook setting. This is dependent on how the someone is known to an individual and how they happen to have a point of contact. Increasingly individuals are finding it easier to strike up informal and multiple points of communication by messaging, wall posting, poking, xmas gifting etc. These are used in a variety of ways; and communications that also move offline as part of texting and mobile phone calls stratify those relationships that are ‘closest’ or most favoured by people. The message here is that you are important enough to be carried around in someones phone book. A part of not only their online network, but also their physical and pocketable network.

SNSs such as Facebook can link again those friendships that may have been ‘lost’ and that can again become reconnected. These also provide space(s) for new ‘friends’ as people rub up against each other and then seek each other out on Facebook. It is unlikely that someone known only on Facebook is someone that an individual would pursue for a date. Generally it is considered a little crass to ‘stalk’ someone in such a way outside of a dating website. This does mean however, that should two peoples meet on a dating site that they move this introduction onto another SNS like Facebook and ‘get to know’ more about the other person that way. In fact it would be rather remiss of them if they did not do this, what better way to scope out someone’s ‘friends’, interests and super-poking tendencies.

How people choose to stratify their relationships and provide points of contact represents how ‘valuable’ connections are, and ultimately You the individual are but one of many in networks of many links. If you share a ‘friend’ status on a SNS, and have that person’s mobile number, email, landline, address etc. then you have high value status in that person’s networks of connections.

In terms of specifically asking someone out, because of the array of contactability and technologies available, this need not be tied to the ‘traditional’ face-to-face request. Strategies can include a wall-post, direct message, email, text, and even that communication ‘richer’ cousin: voice-to-voice contact over the phone. The types of communication strategies that are employed give an indication as to how well the other person is know, and how formal a ‘date’ that is to take place. For example, a ‘lets go for a drink’ wall post on Facebook holds less social value than a direct phone call, or face-to-face ‘let’s go for dinner’ invitation. This is because the face-to-face and voice-to-voice are private, direct, synchronous, in real time and personal. Wall posts and other Facebooking actions are broadcast and in the public eye and therefore in the eyes of the beholder a less ‘formal’ invitation out. Of course to be really thorough one should employ a multitude of these, but then one could also be accused of being over eager, or just a Facebook addict.

When cancelling a ‘date’, never ever do this on a wall post. This reeks of indiscretion in such a ‘public’ domain and denotes a ‘rudeness’ and abruptness on behalf the poster. Much better to call and speak directly in a personal manner that signifies that the other person is of value. This shares the same resonances with ‘dumping’ via a fax, email, text, etc in fact any point of mediated contact is not acceptable to break up with someone. Unless they’ve been an absolute ‘hoof’ and then it is more than acceptable to post to everyone in your and their network, and to YouTube that this is the case.

On another note, revealing that you love someone can come from multiple of sources, if this is for the first time, better a face-to-face declaration so that you can both share in the rapture, and anticipated reciprocated ‘I love you too’ back. Also this means that should you need to issue an ‘I never want to see you again’ message, best done in real-time that means such actions can be implemented from the ‘now’, rather than getting lost amongst an unnecessary a to-ing and fro-ing of disruptive and possibly upsetting communications.

One Response to “#302 Potato, Potaaaato, let’s call the whole thing off.”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great advice. I have take note. You should publish this lot as short advice for digital times book!

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