Miss Manners in the White House

Facebook rocks.  Well, maybe it doesn’t rock, but it does fill a niche on the Internet that no other site or service fills as well. The type of interaction that Facebook allows is new to all of us, after all Facebook is a baby.  As with kids when they learn to eat at a fancy restaurant or have conversations at a dinner parties, they make faux paus.  They are unaware of proper etiquette.  Such interactions are new to them, just as Facebook is to us.

In many cases, etiquette exists for good reason: to avoid offending, inconveniencing or putting others in a difficult or uncomfortable position.

Enter Facebook.

We are all kids learning how to interact via this new medium and it desperately needs a common etiquette to help remove the cruft that often ends up in our friend feed.  Michael to the rescue.  Here are some guidelines to help improve our communication via Facebook via good etiquette:

Faux Pas #1: Bait Post

This is unbelievable common.  Ever browsing your friend feed and come across a post like this? ”OMG, that was awesome!!!”  That’s all.  No context.  No explanation.  This is a Bait Post.  It begs the reader to respond “Hey, what was so awesome?”.  Then the original poster has to explain what should have been in the original post.


Sample Bait Post

If the poster doesn’t want their friends to know what they are talking about, why are they even posting to Facebook?  Send a text message or an email.  If it’s private, keep it private.  Don’t tease.

If it’s not private, why do this to your friends? Is this how you carry on conversations in real life? Begging for attention? Facebook already brings out the narcissist in us, don’t encourage it.

In all fairness, I have been guilty of this in the past and a recent Bait Post of mine prompted me write this entry to help remind me:  Friends don’t Bait Post friends.

Faux Pas #2: Bait and Ignore Post

What could be worse than the dreaded Bait Post?  Well, the Bait and Ignore Post.  Not only does the poster bait you, they ignore your pleas to know what’s going on.

Faux Pas #3: Bait and Non-Of-Your-Business Post

Yes, it gets worse.  This is less common, thank god, but still happens.  The poster baits their friends and then after the obligatory ”What’s going on?”, they post to the conversation: “I’ll email you,” essentially telling the rest of their friends, that it’s non of their business.   Hopefully, if you are one of the lucky “What’s going on?” posts, you will get the explanation email.  I never do, because I never fall for the bait post in the first place.  You shouldn’t either.

Hopefully, if we all stop responding to Bait Posts, they will slowly die.  But doubtful, so feel free to send offending friends to this blog entry

Faux Pas #4: App Spam

Everyone is quite familiar with this one.  Facebook applications posting into your friend feed:  ”Joe Blow needs one more diamonds is his mining adventure.”, “Milard Jones just joined the Italian Mafia gang”.  This takes annoying to new heights.  The information is useless, no one cares, everyone hides it, so why do it?  If the application doesn’t give you the option to not automatically post to your feed, you shouldn’t play it.  It’s spam, plain and simple.  Kudo’s to Facebook for allowing us to hide such posts.

Sometimes there’s a fine line.  Some applications, such as Foursquare, actually do post interesting information.  Foursquare posts about your current whereabouts to your Facebook feed.  At least it has meaning.  I’ll find it interesting if you are cable hang gliding in Trevallyn State Recreation Area.  Knowing that you scored 100,000 points in Bejeweled, not so much.

Faux Pas #5: Anonymous Friends

I consider Facebook a place to communicate with my friends.  If I don’t know you, I can’t really consider you a friend. Sorry, it’s the nature of relationships.  With that understanding, I won’t approve you as my friend.  You should presume all Facebookers will reject unknown friend requests and here is where etiquette comes into play:

If you ask to be friends with someone and you barely or don’t know them, add a note to the friend request, either jogging their memory or explaining why you should become Facebook pals.  It’s courteous and respectful and if you don’t do it, expect to be rejected.

That’s it.  That’s all I have.  See how painless it was?  Now you know how simple proper etiquette on Facebook can be.  With these faux pas clearly spelled out you will recognize them everyday and realize just how inconvenient they are. Just because it’s a new medium doesn’t mean we can’t apply common sense to it.

Did I miss one?  Disagree?  Let me know.