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Don’t Be That Guy April 6, 2011

Posted by J. in FYI, Genius.

I loves me some Facebook.  God help me, I do.  I think my friend Matthew summed it up best when he described it as being like a newspaper, but better because all the news stories are about people he knows.  I feel exactly the same way about it.

The problem with Facebook is that there’s no real way to know for sure if you’re contributing to it in a good way or if you’re just an insufferable Internet prick.  The Internet and the ways we use it are currently evolving and changing at dizzying speeds.  It’s hard to know when you’ve made a faux pas when the rules don’t really exist.  It’s not like there’s a Miss Manners of Facebooking.  Yet.

To that end, the beauty of Facebook, and GOD don’t I wish life had one, is the “hide” button.  It’s sort of the Facebook way of saying, “I like you okay and everything, but you keep posting shit that annoys the crap out of me and for my own sanity I just have to see you a lot less.  Nothing personal, man.”  Sort of like screening your phone calls.

I think everyone must have a personal list of Facebook faux pas that send them running for the “hide” button.   I know I do.  Wanna hear mine?

Facebook is a Party, and You’re the Turd in the Punchbowl

Faux Pas Number One:  Snow Tires

We all have things that are in-jokes between us and one or two other people.  Things that are freaking hysterical and are guaranteed to make us laugh whenever it comes up.  But in-jokes are annoying on Facebook because they make the rest of your friends who aren’t in on the joke look like assholes.

Snow tires?

Facebook is like being at a party.  You’re standing in a circle of people, some you are very close to and others you know more casually.  Let’s say that someone says something that makes you think of something else funny that happened between you and your best friend.  Do you turn to your BFF and just say “Snow tires!” out of the blue, watch him fall into convulsive laughter and snort a mojito out of his nose?  Maybe you do, if you’re like me.  But if someone at the party turns to you with understandable confusion and says, “I don’t get it…” would you wipe the tears from your eyes and say “Oh, it’s a private joke.”

You would, if you’re a dick and lacking in social graces.  At a party, of course, you would explain the joke so that the other people around you could share in it and possibly snort cocktails out of their nasal orifices as well.  And then later on they’ll say “Snow tires!” to each other and laugh all over again.

If your status update is a private joke between you and one of your friends, it’s rude to tell one of your other friends that it’s private.  If you don’t want to explain the joke, perhaps it would be better shared as a message instead.

Faux Pas Number Two:  please don’t worry too much/it only hurts when I breathe

Fucking emo hipsters and their fucking ironic sadness.  If you’re really so sad that you have to quote Fall Out Boy lyrics, perhaps you should get off the Internet and go for a walk.  Clear your head.  Get some sunshine on your face.  Take a fucking Zoloft.

Worse yet is when someone just posts whatever song is in their head and it’s lyrics could be somehow misconstrued by well-meaning friends.  “You okay?  I’m worried about you!”  “Call me, okay?”  “What’s going on?!?!”  Then the poster explains that it was nothing, he was just quoting a song.

I know that sometimes you’re sitting there and a song lyric pops into your head.  That’s cool.  It happens to me all the time.  Hell, I’ve got the Max and Ruby theme stuck in my head right now.  But if you think in song lyrics and constantly post them instead of words of your own because you want to show how in to music you are, you may have slipped into doucheville.

The exception to this is possible earworms.  Posting an earworm just to screw with your friends is a delightful bit of fuckery, and I’m all for fuckery.  Even if I get stuck singing “Gimme back that Filet O’Fish, Gimme that fish!” all afternoon.  Totally worth it.

Faux Pas Number Three:  It’s English.  Learn it.  Love it.

As a card-carrying member of the Grammar Police, I actually don’t expect everyone to have an A-plus mastery of the written word.  Facebook isn’t a doctoral dissertation or the Great American Novel.  I know (sadly) that composing coherent sentences doesn’t come easily–if at all–for some people.  I’ve found that people my age and older bring our everyday literary abilities with us to the Internet, where the younger generations who are technological natives leave it behind in favor of text-speak shorthand.

I chalk a lot of it up to the basic generation gap that exists when it comes to technology.  I know there are lots of young folks posting from their fancy-ass phones with only their thumbs.  I know that text-speak is useful when you’re sending text messages and keystrokes are at a premium.

The argument people my age make is that the things you post to Facebook (or write in your blogs) isn’t a text message to a couple of friends.  It’s a text message to all your friends.  And your friends of friends.  And grown-up people who are looking at you and wondering how the fuck you got out of the fourth grade with grammar and spelling that bad.  I don’t understand why anyone would want everyone he knows to think that he’s illiterate.  Especially if he’s not.

I know other kids don’t care.  “It’s just the Internet.”  Yeah, that’s kind of why I think it’s important.  It’s one thing if you’re sending a private text to a friend that no one else is going to see.  But your status update is going to be seen by hundreds and hundreds of people.  Possibly screen-capped and circulated if your fuck-ups are funny enough.  You just don’t know.  I know if I was planning on getting accepted to colleges and hoping for some big scholarship money, I’d be damn sure that I looked as smart as possible at all times.  If any of my Facebook friends were potential job contacts, I’d certainly make the effort.  Especially online.

Screen-cap FTW.

This grammar-gap is one of the reasons I know a lot of people my age won’t friend young people.  I love my young friends.  I am proud of the adults they’re becoming and I think the world is going to be in good hands someday.  Even if that world is populated with people with no real grasp of grammar or spelling.  *sigh*

And then there’s the grownups.  Those of us on this side of the generation gap.  Man, if you’re an adult who can’t capitalize, throw in a few punctuation marks here and there, or TURN OFF THE FUCKING CAPS LOCK KEY, you’re on notice.

Using text-speak when you’re a grownup is like wearing a bad toupee or having a facelift that’s too tight.  You think it makes you look younger and hip and cool, but it really just makes you look old.  And sad.  It’s sort of like dotting your i’s with hearts or smiley faces.  There’s a statute of limitations as to how long that’s cute.

Also, if you can take the time to add sideways hearts, smiles, hugs, rainbows, glittery-fucking-unicorns and a shout-out to your bestie or the love of your life, you have the time to throw in a comma where a comma ought to be.  If you have time to adddddd severallll extraaaaa letterssssss at the enddddd of halfffff your wordssssss, you have time to add a fucking period.

If you type in HaLf AnD hAlF, I fucking hate you right now.

Here’s the thing about the written word, and it’s as true on Facebook as anywhere else: grammar rules exist to make what you’re saying understandable.   And again, Facebook is like a party.  When your status updates look like they were pecked out by a meth-addicted chicken, you have just shoved three deviled eggs in your mouth and started talking.  I mean, if you have something to say, don’t you want us to understand it?  Speaking of that…

Faux Pas Number Four:  omg i am so bored right now

And now so am I.

Before you say something, have something to say.  I mean, I’m not looking for you to tap-dance and sing me show tunes, or dazzle me with your wit and brilliance.  Although, if you are one of those people who routinely entertains me with your online sideshow, kudos to you!  I have lots of friends who post infrequently because, as they tell me, they just don’t think anyone wants to hear that they just got a cup of coffee, started a load of laundry, or that their favorite show is on tonight.

I also have friends that chronicle every cup of coffee, load of laundry, and OMG GLEE! Guess which ones are currently hidden and which ones aren’t.

It’s hard to gauge how interested our friends are in our daily lives.  I get that.   I think there should be some sort of litmus test of interesting.   I imagine it would go something like this:

Boring Update:  Drinking coffee, yum.

Better Update:  Just poured bad milk into my coffee and didn’t realize it until I drank it.  FML.

Best Update:  Just poured bad milk into my coffee and didn’t realize it until I choked on a chunk of curdled milk.  I then vomited all over my keyboard.  Looks like I’m off to Best Buy later today.  (Sent from my iPad.)

If you don’t see any difference, I may have already hidden you.

It’s not like you have to somehow entertain the Internet every minute of every day.  No one hits them out of the park every single time.  Just don’t tell me when you’re doing nothing.  It’s as pathetic as just reporting “I’m updating my status now.”

omg i feel bad for youuuuu ❤ larry 4eva 🙂

Slactivists, UNITE!

Faux Pas Number Five:  If you don’t post this for one hour, the terrorists win.

93% of your friends would rather hear about your cat’s latest bowel movement than read crap like this.

Here’s the truth, sports fans: 93% of the people you are Facebook friends with won’t repost bullshit status updates about the pet cause of the week because they are smarter than you.

They know that 98.4% of their friends don’t want to read crap that was lazily cut and pasted from some other lazy-ass person’s status.

They know 87.25% of people know that re-posting fake statistics about who will and won’t post is 98.2% hot, steamy guano and 37.6% of them also resent the attempt at being made to feel like an asshole for not supporting special needs kids, cancer patients, or the right for gay midget astronauts to own those awesome fainting goats.

A full 96.574% of your Facebook friends are looking at you from behind their computer monitors wondering if you are that ignorant that you honestly think changing your avatar to a cartoon character is really going to do anything to raise awareness of child abuse.

I love that you hate cancer, support our troops, want to see an end to bullying and would like it very much if people stopped fucking children, and you just want us to be aware.

Know what? We already knew. We all hate cancer already. In fact, won’t you make this your status for one hour? Fuck cancer. Hell, shout it to the world. FUCK CANCER. No cutting and pasting required, though if you’re feeling lazy, knock yourself out. I bet you could get at least 45.89463% of your friends to “like” that comment.

Now, and here’s the important part, in addition to doing that, go and make a donation. Support a team or a person doing the Race for a Cure. Toss a couple of ducats to any cancer charity of your choice. If you’re feeling really motivated, you can knit or sew chemo caps or comfort shawls for people in treatment. In short, DO SOMETHING. If all you did was re-post that status, you’ve done nothing at all.

"If you don't post this as your status, I'm going to give you a wedgie and then stick your head in the toilet."

This post makes me want to punch someone.  You want to see an end to bullying?  Don’t be a bully.  Don’t insinuate that your friends aren’t caring enough about other people because they won’t cut and paste.  You know what kind of a person uses coercion to get their friends to hop on a bandwagon?  Bullies.

The greatest cardinal sin of those “re-post this for one hour” statuses isn’t even that they’re manipulative and mostly just plain stupid, but that they’ll show up all over my news feed.  I’ve had that bullying one show up seven times in one day.  Seven people posting the exact same status update.  How enlightening.

And for the love of sweet, hairy monkeys, before you cut and paste a “warning” message, make sure it’s accurate, up-to-date, and not a complete load of bullshit.  In fact, before you re-post a warning of any sort, cut and paste it into your Google search bar first.  See if anything in it is true or not.   One of the more recent “alerts” dated back to 2009, which is like 20 years in Internet time.  It’s ancient.  Let it die already.  But if you had checked Google first, you’d know this already.

My Politics/Faith/Practices Are the Only Valid Ones, and It’s My Christian/Democratic/Breastfeeding/Red Sox-Loving Duty to Bring You Around to My (Correct) Point of View

I was once taught that there are three things you never discuss in public: sex, religion, or politics.  I will add parenting to that as a fourth, if I may.  And if you are rabid in your support of any sports team, I’m going to make sports number five.

Man, no one likes a Sports Dick.

Faux Pas Number Six:  Matthew 7:15

How can I explain this?  I’m not anti-religion.  Religion fascinates me.  Yours, mine, his, theirs…why people believe what they believe is fascinating.  How people live their faith is interesting to me, so people who post about their religious practices in the context of their lives is awesome.  BUT:Live your faith.  But respect the fact that I have my own set of beliefs, and I’m as sure in them as you are.  Don’t preach to me.  We probably don’t believe the same things.  I’m good with that.  I wish you were, too.

And that goes double for those who think there are in some way intellectually superior for their lack of religion.  You’re not changing my mind or my heart, either.

It’s a faux pas either way you do it.  If you’re not preaching to the choir, you’re annoying someone, whether you’re faithful, fallen, or in-between somewhere.  You can take that to the bank.

Faux Pas Number Seven:  Obama is the Anti-Christ

You see what I did there?  As righteous as you think your cause is, you’re not changing anyone’s mind about anything, except for possibly your inclusion in their News Feed.

Faux Pas Number Eight:  Just say no!  Or yes!  Have it banned!  Or make it mandatory!

Know that as passionately as you feel about something, someone on your friends list feels just as passionately in the exact opposite direction.

Will any amount of rational, articulate argument make you change how you feel about your faith, your politics, or your parenting choices?  What, then,  makes you think your status updates will make your friends change their opinions?  We know how you feel.  But there’s a line of dickitude you don’t want to cross.

I think when we talk about divisive issues in real life, it’s easy to know when we’re pissing someone off.  We have cues that tell us when we’re getting close to crossing a line and making ourselves an annoyance.  So for the sake of friendship, we pull back.  We drop the subject.  We agree to disagree and have a round of beers.  It’s hard to know when to stop on Facebook, though.  My advice: don’t start.  It’s not that important.  Let it go.

Anyway, if I was somehow appointed the Miss Manners of Facebook, those would be included in my list of faux pas.

What are yours?



1. Haley - April 6, 2011

Can I add “Family dropping a big bomb via Facebook”?

Ernie’s family decided to announce that his grandmother would be having back surgery via Facebook. Others I know have announced engagements, deaths, pregnancies, etc. via Facebook. I understand hitting all the people at once that you don’t talk to daily that way, but if you’re going to be bitching at someone that they should be closer to their family and know all sorts of things, being a hypocrite and doing the bomb drop via Facebook is chickenshit.

2. Yorkie - April 6, 2011

What’s just as annoying as people who read things like what you just posted and do the supposedly ironic “I KNoW WhAt U MeAN…God is so great come 2 my church You’ll see…” etc thinking they’re on your side when they’re making themselves an even bigger nuisance! I can’t even finish it because it’s making even me ill.

I actually got a friend invite from someone who made a FB page for their dog. They listed education as “Hound High” and “Doggie College”. Seriously.

FB is like the military. It’s where the uneducated and intellectual alike find meaning, and everyone thinks their input is valid.

3. string - April 6, 2011

“the right for gay midget astronauts to own those awesome fainting goats.”

Best line in a blog post evah!

4. bezzie - April 6, 2011

Ha ha! I find 90% of my posts are drive by bitchings. I like to indulge my Negative Nelly on FB.

5. Trillian42 - April 6, 2011

I love you. I kind of want to post this whole thing on FB, but the people who need to read it most wouln’t even see themselves in it.

6. elizabeth M. - April 12, 2011

I think I just figured out why I haven’t noticed any comments from you on my FB posts lately. 🙂

7. AudreyGS - April 13, 2011

It’s a Moebius strip: If I do re-post this, does it become just the thing you decry? (But oh! how I want to!)

8. DeltaDawn - April 13, 2011

Well said!

9. florapie - April 13, 2011

oh my, the part about religion being like a penis is awesome.

10. Linda - April 14, 2011

Wow, this has to be historical somehow. A combination of swearing a blue streak and grammar instruction in one handy article. Ya just don’t see that everyday.

11. Stephanie Henley - May 2, 2011

I posted ‘Religion is like a penis’ poster on my FB wall and the response was quite unbelievable! The ‘God Squad” came out in full force, from the most unexpected quarters and I was horrified at some of their responses and their general attitude towards those making a comment in support of the poster. I was happy for them to make the comments, and make them they surely did as better the devil you know than not!

12. Justina - June 16, 2011

You missed the over-update. When some one posts fucking paragraphs about what they currently have going on in their day and the status of each of those things. Why do I need to hear your to-do list?

13. Justina - June 16, 2011

Wait! I have another one! Ambiguous emoting. When some one writes an impassioned status update that I can’ t only assume is about their loser boyfriend, or possibly some other offender, but only their close friends will really know what it’s about. If you’re not gonna let me in on the juicy stuff, stop teasing me!

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