If you know me, you know that traditional etiquette is not my strong card; I pride myself on privileging ethics over etiquette, but there is enough crap pouring unwanted into our lives (cuts to services; occupations; wars; sickness; stolen futures – and I don’t mean those investment thingies whatever they are), without the annoyances we can avoid on FB.
If you are sending a friend request to someone you don’t know and have never really communicated with, add a little message introducing yourself and saying in a few words why on earth you are approaching them. Perhaps, “I love your comments on the wall of our joint friend So&So.” Or, “I’ve read your piece on Alternet and I’d like to discuss it.” Or, “I’m trying to expand my list of friends so that I don’t look so pathetic, so I’m pretty randomly trying to friend anyone I think is more popular than me so that I can friend all their friends.”
Similarly, if you’re suggesting that two of your friends should be friends with each other, do tell them why.
Respect the Boundaries of Others
If someone agrees to be your FB friend, do not instantly sign them up for some “closed group” that you’re in, without consulting them and asking for their permission.
Don’t “tag” friends in photos unless you know that they’ll be happy to have themselves identified in that particular picture. I hate when people post pics of me that I haven’t seen before, because I am very careful about the images I scatter in digital-ville and I like to control them. Just ask first.
Don’t put other peoples’ business out there for the world to see without their permission. I don’t want a real-life friend posting publicly, “So what did the Dr say about that big pus-filled swelling on your earlobe?” Or “Did you ever get those bounced checks straightened out with your bank?” Or even worse, “When are you coming back from New Orleans?” This last message is also known as an “Out-of Work Burglar Alert.”
If you see an article on someone’s wall that you want to repost, credit them as you would credit a poet you are quoting. People often use: via So&So. To hotlink their name (which is what credit is usually about), type an “@” and then start typing their name. If they are your FB friend, their name will come up below, you click it, and it appears in your status or comment box hyperlinked. Don’t be a leech or a thief of someone else’s work in spotting a good article or video clip.
Control Your Playful Self
If you play games or send virtual fruits (the kind that grow on virtual tress) or otherwise do things for which Facebook has required access to your info and that of your friends, don’t assume anyone else does. I don’t. I have particular uses for Facebook – and those morph from time to time – but they never include playing. I prefer to do that with myself or with a certain friend.
Remember, You Have Other Communication Tools
Don’t inflict what should be private individual messages on all of your FB friends. Instead of tagging Bobby and her him publicly if she wants to go to the Roller Derby with you, just use the FB message facility or that old-fashioned method called email or even that archaic tool called the telephone, and save the rest of us precious seconds of our life reading something irrelevant. Obviously, this does not apply to a general message, such as, “Anybody wanna go to the Roller Derby with me?”
Not Everyone Lives On FB
Do not assume that by posting something on FB, you have directly and definitely communicated with someone. If I am offline for several hours, hundreds of messages build up and I do not get to rewind and see more than a fraction of them before a gazillion other messages come in. This is one problem of having a lot of FB friends, but no smart phone. I don’t want to hear, “What do you mean, why did I stand you up? After all, I posted on FB that I was in a traffic jam.”
No one likes a finger in the ribs, virtual or otherwise. No one on Facebook knows what it really means and no one wants to be a pokee.