Skirting the Issue - An open letter to Facebook users

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Dear Facebook users of the world,

Isn’t this wee website wonderful? Isn’t it just the very best place in the world to share pictures, tell people what is going on in your life, keep up to date with news and celebrity gossip and have a bit of craic in the evening?

It is particularly great now that I have reached that stage in life where I have no life in the evenings outside of my own four walls. I can converse with old friends, glass of wine in hand, play some music and enjoy myself without so much as having to dress in anything other than my pyjamas. There is surely no bigger joy in life to someone in their mid 30s who just wants a cosy seat in the evening?

All this said, as a prolific user of Facebook I thought it would be sensible to point out some things about appropriate use of Facebook which will ensure a pleasant social networking experience for us all.

1) Your teacher taught you how to spell. Text speak might be all the rage now with the young ones but you are 42. Please don’t shorten your words, leaving out basic grammatical rules or post in a way which requires me to read your status update slowly, with one eye closed to try and figure out what the holy hell you are saying in the first place. (Occasional updates “in a Derry accent” are okay. Ye know what a mean, hi! But don’t overdo it).

2) We all have bad days. And we all like a wee rant from time to time. But people who consistently use Facebook only to complain about their life, the people in their life, the people who used to be in their life or the fact the world has not miraculously supplied them with the living they think they are owed do not make for fun Facebook friends.

Which leads me to 3) The person who posts the coded barb. You know the kind, people who post updates such as: “Some people don’t deserve what they have. The feckers” or things of that nature. Dear Facebook friends, have you met me? I’m by my very nature exceptionally paranoid and even if I know in my heart of hearts that I have not done anything to annoy you I will manage to convince myself that you are talking about me and I will work myself up into a state of severe angst over it. Yes, I’m so paranoid, I probably think this status update is about me...

4) I enjoy a laugh as much as the next person. But we all know humour is a pretty subjective thing. Anything which overuses the bad F word, laughs about a celebrity dying (even if it’s a celebrity I don’t particularly like) or is in extreme poor taste will probably annoy people and lose you friends. I’m pretty sure that most sensible grown ups have an internal “this is really bad taste” sensor and know when to keep something to ourselves even if secretly we find it a bit funny. General rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it out loud in a public place, don’t say it on Facebook either.

5) “Fraping” is a really horrible word. It makes light of actual rape. Please don’t use it.

6) If you myst hijack someone else’s profile (aka the horrible ‘frape’ word) try and be clever about it. You are a grown up, not an eight year-old boy. I’m pretty sure you can come up with something wittier than: “‘I did a huge poo and it really smells.”

7) Yes, I know you really, really, really love your other half. I do not need details of your bedroom activities. Some things are best kept to yourself.

8) Similarly, Facebook is not the waiting room of a Relate office. If you and your significant other are having a full on domestic, I don’t need to read about it. Your life is not a soap opera - you don’t need an audience to those awkward rows over who put the empty milk carton back in the fridge/ forgot to tax the cars/ didn’t come home until three in the morning.

9) This one particularly relates to this week and Valentine’s Day. Don’t spoof. Aye, we know, you got sixteen dozen roses and were going out somewhere very fancy... no need to rub it in. (NB: I don’t actually mean that one. I’m just jealous because I didn’t get so much as a pee-the-bed robbed from St. Columb’s Park).

10) While I fully respect your right to hold your political/ religious/ ethical beliefs I respectfully ask that you do not ram them down my throat by posting constant links/ updates/rants about the same on your Facebook especially when such posts contain distressing and graphic images.

11) And this, dear friends, is my golden rule of Facebooking. Whatever you may think of me, whatever I may have done in your presence, please do not tag photos of me on Facebook - especially ones where I look particularly fat/drunk/stupid and expect me to be happy about it.

You might think it is a bit of craic. I, on the other hand, don’t. There are certain moments which, as Steps would say, are better best forgotten. Me drunkenly pulling faces over a half empty glass of wine are among those moments.

Now, if you keep all this is in mind, I’m pretty sure we will go on to have a fairly pleasant mutual Facebook experience.

Much love,

As always,

Claire.