Proper Facebook Etiquette

#732 So many stories about me on Facebook aren’t true!

Friday 10th April, 2009

It’s baffling, I LOVE the Facebook for updates with friends and so on, but what happens when there’s tall tales posted on my Wall that aren’t true! Should I just delete? Or defend my position? The most recent one was when I had to let friends down when we had planned a night out together. They thought I was being flakey. I didn’t have a choice.

First, do not stress so much. There’s no need for all the social pressures that You are placing on yourself. And quite unnecessarily too. It wasn’t until Facebook that we had the immediacy of ‘what people are doing’ as and when they do it. This is not only in live-time, this is the real-time of friendships in play. So when someone writes on your Wall a mis-truth (even as a ‘poking in fun’ and part of an in-jest rhetoric) it is easy to take this to heart too much. A case of too much information, not enough cooling off time and negotiated social distancing.

Take this scenario; if you and the same friend were sharing a coffee and in conversation casually mentioned,
‘oh you missed such a great night last night! Where were you, in hiding? Secret lover? Or just plain flakey?’
The chances are that you would laugh this off and ‘defend’ your position,
‘Oh I had to… (insert most appropriate social ‘truth’ here)’, and go from there.
Because such a comment is written on your Wall for other friends to read, a flippant comment quickly becomes more accusatory and confrontational. Instead of an informal,
‘hey where were you’,
suddenly you are embroiled in an she said / he said exchange of where you should have been against what you were actually doing.

One day you’ll wonder why so much emphasis is places on one comment and about one incident. HOWEVER, your dilemma also hints at a more sustained series of occasions when un-truth’s have been broadcast across your Facebook.

Hmm what are you doing? A jewel thief? Spy? Secret identity? Or constantly ‘on the make’? Now see what you’ve done, you’ve made me sounds as snappish and critical as your friends. See how easy a social positioning this is to fall into.

For social situations it is a given that there is interaction with at least one other person – otherwise we would be just talking to ourselves. Upon the moment of communication we move from a self-reflective state of mind, to consideration of another’s acknowledgement of what they think about me, how they are interpreting my actions and what it is they are seeking from contact. In this instance it is with an effortless that we (or rather you) increasingly put yourself in a minority position. Though individuals are constantly concerned with how friends view them, and though some try to orchestrate scenarios where they can always be seen in a positive light, such negotiations are still being translated into the social situation(s) of Facebook. What I am suggesting is that we are (together) continually finding new ways to attach and detach ourselves from each other, and position ourselves in relation to our friends, family, colleagues – and for those who are yet to update and safeguard their privacy settings – even strangers.

For now friends seem to ‘come at you’ in attack mode on your Wall, via comments, tagging etc. The learning curve here is about how to interpret such actions. Misinterpretation is likely when friends mean one thing, and you take another. The notion that such actions will become routine and mundane is unlikely where the social constancy of creating and recreating social scenarios constantly links us to our friends and their lives.

Remember, you can’t call yourself – although there’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself. Part of being friends and having a friendship is that you get to get in each others way, fall out, make up, but to always build upon what you share. Facebook makes this side of things easy, it’s up to you about you choose to treat such connections.

In short, not so seriously.

Unless you really are a spy and they’ve blown your cover.

One Response to “#732 So many stories about me on Facebook aren’t true!”

  1. JohnG says:

    this can’t be that different to the role letters have played as literary objects in the last millenium simultaneously private (and open to wider scrutiny). Also above and below stairs narratives. Privacy is a lot less private than we like to pretend..

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