Proper Facebook Etiquette

#312 Going with the Facebook flow

Monday 10th March, 2008

My emotions are all over the place and I blame Facebook; its getting tiring any advice?!

As an ‘ever-present’ social space Facebook takes on new social meaning and significance in our daily routines and ‘hi how are you’s’. As a result the emotive labour of being so connected can be arduous for some, particularly if you are not used to such levels of exposure and participatory demands that are made. This is all about subjective meaning and the cultivation of a sense of self. From the first moment you set up your profile you are ‘opting in’, into a domain that has specific social prompts and actions. By confirming that you are on the site, be prepared for a flurry of messages, pokes, posts and gentle prodding to gain attention.

Encouragement to display, ‘confess’ and manage actions match social expectations that are about the expression of various emotive states; e.g. take care that the ‘amusing’ well post that you placed at 3am is not interpreted as ‘sad’ or ‘desperate’. So emotive display and perception of others is integral to the experience of being on Facebook; the integration of what has been previously separate on and offline domains.

The emotions have been described as compulsive thoughts that are felt at the height of the moment. Such heights of moment gain attention on Facebook when setting your status to ‘hungry’ can take on a number of interpretative meanings and generate speculative questions. From the obvious: Hungry for what? To the judgemental: Huh ‘hungry’ like I care’! And including the relational: Ooo that’s made me feel hungry too!, I must find something to eat, etc.

I bet you never knew you wielded such potential social networking power hmm…

Social networking ‘power’ and participatory obligations can be ‘hard work’. Emotionally attached to Facebook users can deliberately present a series of intriguing snippets designed to provoke and sustain interest. Profile states are a complex intertwining of the; ‘who I am’, ‘who you think I am’, ‘who I want to be’ and ‘what I want you to see’ aspects of identity. Like the ‘real’ self these serve to bring together the You and you, and you and… in a seamless set of interconnections and display information. Suddenly though things get exhausting internalised states are opened up for display (e.g. Facebook Notification: Jane is no longer listed as single) and we judge one another on the relation to one another. This is not to assert that emotive indicators are the only means of construction and expression, but these are the ones that take the most energy, commitment and have the potential to fail to meet our own emotional needs when not reproduced in the appropriate manner or taken in quite the right way.

So advice: take control (and stock) of your emotions. Avoid those 3am pokes, wall posts and especially picture uploads. Content plays THE central role on Facebook for who and what you are. General social conventions about not acting like an over intensive nutcase should follow suit when in the ‘digital’ and connected realm of SNSs. In this way as individuals we get to live, understand, mix and experience all our everyday actions and ‘hellos’. Plus you won’t be so exhausted that if you do put a foot wrong, you can easily put a positive spin on things instead; ‘oh THAT message, well I was just being silly, hope you enjoyed it (haha)’ could be your saving grace!

In short, enough emotional stress; go with the flow…

15 Responses to “#312 Going with the Facebook flow”

  1. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Anon,

    ‘most embarrassing FB moments’, i’d be happy to collate these and post anecdotes anonymously…

    so send to me and i’ll see what we come up with!

    Meantime; there’s plenty of my own to start you off with…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don’t know how to do this but it would be fun to get people to post their Facebook embarrassing moments. All beginners have a story. I happily said I was off to a party (status up date) not knowing that two people had not been invited and this would wash back…oops!
    But as you say we learn

  3. Learner idiot says:

    ok seriously you need to publish an ‘idiots guide’ to Facebook. I don’t understand everything on here, but I am learning fast!

    thanks Maz

  4. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Henry,

    ‘chick things’ are something that a man of your discernment would do well to take on board. Might improve you ability to interact, rather than ‘react’ to ‘scary ‘ situations.

  5. Henry :) says:

    Never had a problem with this – must be a chick thing?

  6. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Fans,

    Thanks all; just need to find a publisher and i’ll make sure to send you all a signed copy!


  7. Reader says:

    Yes – put me down for a copy as well as would be far better than the supposed Facebook guides in the booshops!

  8. Author says:

    you need to put these into a book. I’d buy it!

  9. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Powered up and Savvy,

    I’m pleased that you have embraced the FB experience! positive direction and control is the best way to securely manage your information.

    Savvy, context is a key thing! i’m hoping that despite your change heart the advice you received was 1. useful and 2. a reminder that hey those who are you FB ‘friends’ do care and observe what you’re up to… kind of nice in a ‘spooky’ intense networked way!


  10. Savy says:

    Love your commentary.
    Facebook is a learning process. My ‘mistake’ was to broadcast my anger at fool of so called boyfriend only to find that all those I work with were of course fully informed. So come lunch I got a load of advice which is nice but by that time I had calmed down and so my emotions had changed. That’s Facebook for you – be aware of the ungraded moment

  11. Powered up says:

    Thanks for the post! wordy and informative!

    I have felt drained by Facebook, but its also so much fun. Its just touch keeping up with everything all at once – any tips?

    Also I like the power I have. If I don’t want to be friends with someone I don’t have to follow through!


  12. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Jan,
    It’s all about control. You run it! Of course it is hard to legislate for every contigency ; those unexpected ’emotional displays’ still manage to get out there, but these need not overwhelm or take over. Also what many users fail to remember is that they as culpable for their actions on Facebook as they are offline. Naughty pics on FB? yeah you’re going to get some offline digs and judgements too. It’s all about being prepared for it. Or knowing how to set up your privacy settings!


  13. Jan says:

    When I first started Facebook I don’t think I knew it ran me but as I learnt – thanks in part to the Bolg – about how it works and how to sort my settings I got more control over it. It is all about who or what runs you!

  14. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Anon
    ‘i won’t emote’, now there’s a ‘hidden’ context to work from. Your right this is about getting ‘information savvy’ knowing what to say and when. A classic case of the coordination of manners, emotions and self direction.

    Despite being so intuitive; who knew Facebook could be so complex hmm!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Fascinating ideas. Facebook I think can make us too close to those who in other ways are not that close. So while I might express some emotive comment to a housemate I might not even think of doing it to someone else in my network but Facebok does that for you unless as you suggest we get intelligent in this. So as I don’t text when drunk I wont emote either.

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