Playing nice on Facebook

By Dianne Bayley

If you’re reading this, you’re online. It’s a fabulous place to be and the single biggest communications event of our lifetime. Like any playground, it has rules. Chief among these is “play nice”.

  • You know how when you post something on Facebook that reads, “I am OUTRAGED at this politician/store/product” . . . and some arb Facebook friend writes underneath it, “Hey– haven’t seen you for years! How are you?” Don’t be that person! It’s one thing to divert the thread of a conversation with something similar, but another thing entirely when you use a post to write something that should have been a “hello” between the two of you on the person’s page.
  • Try to avoid giving too much information. If it makes someone cringe in real life, it’ll make everyone cringe in cyberspace too. That includes pet names for your he-man boyfriend/husband/son/father that begin with “snuggy” and end in “poo”; details about any infection, especially those with the word “yeast” in them; and anything that happened in your lavatory, at any time.
  • Armchair activism is fabulous: You can shout the odds, pass on tons of bad news under the guise of “enlightening people” and slap pictures of battered women/babies/animals all over everyone’s page without ever changing out of your jammies. Sadly, your efforts often serve only to desensitise the people who already received those pics 74 times from other jammie-clad slacktivists. Just as the world’s food shortages would end with every member of Farmville planting just one REAL vegetable, real change takes real work. At the very least, post a link that enables the rest of us to make a donation.
  • Know how people leave the room after an hour when we whinge about all our aches and pains; no money; sad life; shocking service delivery; sour milk; atheists/Christians/other religions we don’t personally like; endless politics etc etc etc? They do the same on Facebook. It’s called the “hide” button, and the only difference is you don’t see them walking out the door. Life – and all its bits and pieces – can be shocking and horrible and tragic. But try to temper those posts with something positive – even if it’s “I am SO grateful I have a computer and, obviously, electricity; and a roof over the computer I’m using; and I don’t live in an underdeveloped country where a face would be washed if there was water and nobody has any use for a book”.

All of us have days where a little whinge – or a major rant – is in order. We all have opinions, or we wouldn’t be on a platform like Facebook. It’s an incredible place to learn about someone else’s life/culture/country. It’s also fabulous to see that other people have opinions too, to which they are entitled – here’s where we can all see the level of each others’ intolerance, which is fascinating in many cases.

Importantly, people – including any colleagues, bosses, clients and potential clients will make a judgement on what type of person you are, based on what you publish on your Facebook page. Yes, it’s unfair, judgemental, horrible, sad, nasty etc etc etc – but it’s fact. Seven “whingy” posts in a row and you’re a whinger. Three “I could murder someone” posts in a row and he’s not going to let his daughter date you. Try just one “Isn’t it a fabulous day, I’ve got nothing to complain about” post every now see what sort of response you get.

A general rule of thumb . . . “as in real life, so on Facebook” . . .

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