6 New (Simple) Rules That Will Make Facebook Not Suck

Remember the first time you went to a formal event or a rich relative's house and were baffled by all the weird new rules you had to follow? Suddenly you had to stand up before you shook hands with someone you just met, and words like "taint-sniffer" were inappropriate, and there were so many different forks. You probably imagined the kinds of rules you'd make up if you had the chance: "In my house," you thought to yourself, "everyone will wear their neck ties on their head, like Rambo. I can't wait to make the rules."

Well, I have some good news: The time to make your own rules is upon you. Social media is an entirely new realm for interaction, and unlike royal balls and birthday parties, there aren't set standards yet. So in that spirit, I think we should all agree that ...

#6. It's Rude To Talk About How Great Your Relationship Is

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Romantic relationships and money are the biggest sources of stress in your life, but only one of those things is rude to talk about on Facebook. If you posted a picture of yourself rolling naked in a pile of $100 bills, people would openly and rightfully call you a twat-monkey. But for some reason, if you write a detailed breakdown of spending Valentine's Day with the love of your life and talk about how everything between the two of you is, gosh, just oh so perfect -- this is somehow totally acceptable.

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"That was great, especially teh part in my butt #PillowTalk"

I may sound like I'm just jealous or bitter, but I'm not criticizing all public displays of affection. I think most of those are great. If you wanna cuddle on the carousel or tongue-tangle on the train or even mack in the movie theater, then more power to you. The world is short on love, and we must do everything we can to slather it in the milky fluids of affection. Anyone who complains about that is jealous or a My Little Pony villain. I'm also of the opinion that everyone should have sex as loud as they want, even in apartment complexes with very thin walls, and even if they live above me. That's fine; it's for the greater good. Just go to town on each other, Marty and Cynthia. Kinda wish I knew your names for a different reason, but hey, this still isn't the worst apartment I've ever lived in.

Alexey Baskakov/Hemera/Getty
You haven't truly fucked until you've fucked on a bed of asbestos and lead paint.

The difference here is that all those things I just mentioned are primarily about stimulating the relationship, and I'm only aware it's happening because I happen to be in the vicinity. I'm a bystander, not an audience. The Facebook posts are the opposite. They exist only so you can communicate with others, and you're posting specifically so you can be sure that I see it. In the case of romantic adventures, the poster is actually stopping their celebration of what they have so they can sit down in front of the cold glow of their laptop and tippy-tappy out some gloat about it. Unless they're with your partner while they type those posts. In which case, please have better dates, because that's really sad.

#5. It's Not Rude To Block People

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Let's play pretend for a second. Imagine you're walking down a busy street when off to your left you notice a man standing on a soapbox waving a sign that says "Anti-Vaccine Conspiracy Theorists Caused 9/11." Would you ignore him? Now, despite the joke-answers I know you're going to give in the comments (you rapscallions and your jokes; they crack me up so) I know the truth is that you wouldn't respond. No one would, because that conversation would be pointless and there is no social rule demanding you to. But for some reason, on the Internet, that rule is different.

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On Twitter, blocking someone is a sign that you're a cruel, steel-fisted fascist who is also too weak and sensitive to handle real debate, somehow. And even if we can intellectually understand why that's wrong, blocking people still feels fundamentally wrong enough to where it's a pretty common moral question. Often, we'll threaten to do it several times before we actually do it, as if "this person stops talking" and "I can't see what this person is saying anymore" has any functional difference in the Internet age. So what's with the hesitance? We're not censoring people, right? We're just limiting what we see. That's the opposite of censorship. Losing the ability to do that turns the Internet into a screeching torment void, and I don't like hanging out in those.

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Here's another pic from one of my old apartments.

So we should all feel fine about blocking people. Not good, not bad, just fine. Just as mundanely necessary as flushing a toilet and then lighting a candle because eating Chipotle for three meals in a row has a cost, my friend.

#4. It's Rude To Post Incorrect Information

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I'm going to tell you a true story and try not to lose my temper. I once saw a picture on Facebook of a bunch of cats in surely uncomfortable situations with the caption "This is a perfume company testing their product on animals! This needs to stop!" My finely tuned bullshit detector started making that beeping noise, and I spent 15 seconds on Google discovering that it was actually students in a veterinary school learning how to spay and neuter house cats. When I pointed this out (listen: I'm completely insufferable) the person who posted it responded by saying, "That's not really my fault. Besides, this kind of stuff does happen."

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"No our wing hasn't technically exploded, but I was screaming about the possibility."

Motherfucker (damn, I failed), that's not the point. The Internet came along and made it so that information went "viral" (that is, we all decided to share it) rather than got "popular" (that is, the companies that control marketing decided to make it inescapable). There's more power in our hands now. And with great power comes great responsibility.

If we don't invent some social rules about sharing unreliable information, we're going to make the future a shitty place full of stupid people. Do you really want that to be your legacy?

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J.F. Sargent

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