Social networking comes under fire a lot in the media and is responsible for the downfall of Western civilization, from what I can gather. I’m going to take another tack here and make a confession: I love Facebook. Now granted, I don’t love it so much that I’ve allowed my 11-year-old to create his own page, nor do I allow my 17-year-old to have her own page to which I don’t have access. Her membership into the FB community came with a price: a “friending” by her mother which, if violated or revoked, would come with punishments that only Amy Chua—you know her as the Tiger Mother—could dole out.
This isn’t a love song to Facebook, but rather just some observations I’ve made since creating a Facebook page back in 2008. I started on Facebook just to see what it was like and because my publisher and many other writers recommended it as a great marketing and promotion tool, something at which I am woefully inept. You can do only so much marketing and promotion from the comfort of your desk chair in your attic, I came to find out. Obviously, it has reconnected me with a lot of old friends. Curiously, almost my entire high school graduating class is on there and getting to know many of them has been a blast. Many of them are excited that I am a writer and have bought all of my books, even suggesting them to their extensive friend lists.
My husband has remarked that I am perfectly suited to the world of Facebook because I am a social person by nature. If I were a dog, I would be a Golden Retriever. If he were a dog…well, we’re not sure what he’d be. He’s social, but not as social as I am. He likes the computer, but only for work. He is mildly curious about social networking, but not enough for him to explore this new world. “But still,” I protest when we discuss, “you’d find people you went to high school with!” to which he replies, “I wasn’t looking for them.”
I still don’t know what kind of dog that makes him.
I wouldn’t say I post a lot of status updates, but I do post my fair share. For the most part, they are well thought-out; I try to avoid the “making pork chops now” posts which tell people just a little too much about the sorry state of my cooking and inventiveness on a given night. I try to stay away from politics, but there do come times when I just can’t keep my fat mouth shut, try as I may. Those instances are rare and hopefully, strike a chord among the majority of disgruntled Americans or those of us who aren’t writing manifestos in our cabins in the woods. Maybe not. I have been accused of leaning a little to the left, so who knows?
There are certain things about Facebook I don’t like. For one, I don’t like oversharing. Letting me know that your spouse is more-than-skilled in the boudoir makes my skin crawl, for some reason, as do posts about your viewing of people doing disgusting things in public places. If you found their behavior revolting, why would you want to share that? More to the point, why would I want to read about it? Better to try to wipe their actions clean from your mind. I don’t enjoy the hijacking of the comments section—you know what I mean, when one person comments on your status only to incur the wrath of someone else who read the status and the comments and who then feels compelled to take issue? Hate that. Your entire day is spent deleting comments from two angry commenters who really need to take their fight outside.
I also don’t like when a post that I actually spent some time thinking about and that meant something to me is then appropriated by one of my friends who says “Great post! I’m reposting!” without giving me credit. It’s called plagiarism and it applies to Facebook, people. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing that person’s comments section populated by “Brilliant!” “Wish I could have said it like that!” “Well said” and know that only two people know the truth about where the post came from and it wasn’t from the brain of your now-unfriended former Facebook friend. I’m a writer and writers are very proprietary of their words.
Maybe I could start a trend: Facebook status copyrighting?
All in all, the same basic codes of etiquette and civility that apply in daily life should apply to social networking. In other words, if you wouldn’t want your mother to read it, don’t post it.
Tell me, Stiletto friends, some of whom may also be in my Facebook cohort, what do you think of social networking? How do you use it? And what are your pet peeves?