But while increased connectivity is an undeniably good thing, you can just as easily use it to annoy the living hell out of everyone you know. This is the internet, after all, and if something on the internet can be used in an annoying way, you can safely assume that 99% of the population will proceed to do so (go try reading a comment on YouTube if you don't believe me).
People need rules to tell them how to act. Luckily I went to the top of Mount Internet last night, and God handed me down these 10 Commandments of Facebook for all to obey. Follow them or you'll go to hell.
1. Thou Shalt Not List Every Movie, TV Show, Band and Book You Have Ever Heard Of In Your Profile
"You like The Office? I like The Office!!!"
Do you like Radiohead, A Confederacy of Dunces, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Do you enjoy watching The Office and Family Guy? Of course you do - everyone likes those things. Why make it a point to express your enthusiasm for things that everyone likes?
Maybe you're cooler than that. Maybe you're into cool, obscure bands like Fela Kuti and Einstrzende Neubauten. Awesome, dude - you have impeccable taste in shit that nobody has ever heard of. Congratulations.
Everyone knows that a person is only as good as their taste in books, movies, bands and TV shows, but what exactly do you hope to accomplish by posting a 5,000-item laundry list? Are you going to forge deep and meaningful new relationships with people based on a mutual appreciation of Entourage, or sever ties with good friends because they AREN'T into Fela Kuti? If you feel the need to share this information with the world (and I know that you do), keep it as short as possible. Remember: You're not going to impress anyone. It's the Internet. Nobody is impressed by ANYTHING on the Internet.
2. Thou Shalt Not "Poke" Indiscriminately
This guy was into "the poke." He's dead now (probably).
Maybe I'm missing something here, but as far as I can tell, "poking" people serves absolutely no purpose other than prompting the person on the other side to "poke" you back, sparking off a potentially infinite spiral of pointlessness that makes everyone involved just a little bit dumber than they were when it started. Before you know it you're installing apps that offer "pro" pokes, "office" pokes, and "sexy" pokes. "Indiscriminately" might not even be the right word here. How about "Thou Shalt Not 'Poke' EVER" or "Thou Shalt Not 'Poke' Because That Shit Is Completely Retarded And Pointless"?
3. Thou Shalt Not "Friend" People You Don't Actually Know
This guy is Gladstone's "friend."
What does the word "friend" mean to you? It means different things to different people, but most would agree that a "friend" is someone that you actually know. Ideally someone you've met in real life. I know that's not always going to be the case (Gladstone would have exactly ZERO friends on Facebook if he had to follow that rule), but I'm sure we can all agree that if someone is your friend, you should at least KNOW WHO THEY ARE.
If you vaguely remember someone from high school but you don't remember how you actually knew them, then chances are you guys weren't very good friends to begin with. Of course, it's also entirely possible that you guys were total besties and you're going through some sort of Memento-like amnesia. If so, disregard this commandment, add everyone you possibly can as a friend, and send them all messages that say, "WHO AM I? DEAR GOD, PLEASE TELL ME WHO I AM!"
4. Thou Shalt Not Use A Wall As A Private Messaging Function
The "Wall" is one of Facebook's most popular features. That being said, there are times when it might be a good idea to move your conversation to a private venue. Here's a handly little chart to help illustrate when it's appropriate to communicate on a public Facebook wall, and when it's INAPPROPRIATE to do so:
Hopefully that clears up some confusion.
5. Thou Shalt Not Join A Billion Groups
While it may very well be true that Dave Coulier shaves his balls, what more is there to say about it?
If you're a black lesbian with a severe wheat allergy who also happens to be into Philip K. Dick and astrology, then you're in luck: there are tons of groups on Facebook, and there's sure to be at least one of them out there that caters to you. But with so many groups available, you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. You might like chicken noodle soup quite a bit, but do you really need to join the Chicken Noodle Soup Group? Maybe you prefer sponges to forks, but do you really feel so strongly about it that you need to join SPONGES RULE - FORKS DONT!? If you think Gladstone is funny (and yes, I know that's a big "if"), do you really want to join his group and announce it to the world? Of course not.
There's nothing wrong with joining a few groups, but don't go crazy. Oh - and don't join Gladstone's. Seriously. It will only encourage him.
6. Thou Shalt Not Use Stupid Apps
With so many fart-related apps to choose from, how do I know which one is right for me?
The other day I got a notification on Facebook letting me know that someone had "bought" me. Then someone else challenged me to a "race" where this crappy little car came up, I hit "Go!," and a message popped up that said "YOU LOST THE RACE." Then another notification popped up informing me that someone had "thrown a sheep" at me, asking if I'd like to install some sort of app to "throw a sheep" back at them. Then another notification popped up, but instead of clicking it I closed my laptop, walked down to the nearest highway overpass, and proceeded to get as drunk as a human being possibly can without dying.
There are thousands of apps available on Facebook, and although there are a few worth checking out, about 99.9% of them suck. A reasonably intelligent person should be able to tell the difference. If you can't figure out which is which, maybe Facebook isn't the place for you. Perhaps another social networking site would suit you better?
7. Thou Shalt Not Give "Gifts"
Q: What does all this crap have in common?
A: I don't want any of it. (Except that Chinese paper lantern. That looks nice.)
I know this goes with the whole not-using-stupid-apps thing, but "gifts" are so stupid that they deserve their own commandment.
If you want to give me a "gift" of some kind - like a butterfly, a pink striped thong, or an adorable panda - give it to me in real life.
Yes, you heard me: give me a panda in real life.
I will raise it in my apartment, it will quickly become enormous and unmanageable, and then yes, it will most likely go on a rampage in my building and kill several people before being put down by a team of animal control specialists. Do I want all this senseless carnage? No, but given the choice, I'll take a building full of dead neighbors over receiving a tiny picture of a pair of socks as a "gift" on Facebook.
Am I being too harsh? Maybe. Just give me that Chinese paper lantern and we'll call it even.
8. Thou Shalt Not Contact People From Your Distant Past While Intoxicated
If you had a relatively normal childhood, you probably have some nice memories of the people you grew up with. Assuming those people feel the same way about you, Facebook creates a tinderbox-like atmosphere - all it takes is a few booze-soaked swipes at the keyboard to send off an incoherent missive that can easily shatter even the fondest of childhood memories.
It's nice to let old friends know what you've been up to, but mixing Facebook with alcohol can be a potentially deadly combination.
9. Thou Shalt Not Update Thy Status Message If Thine Status Hath Not Changed (Or If You Have Nothing Clever To Say)
Status Update: Still watching the copy machine.
You have a full-time job, Monday through Friday, 9-5. We have a pretty good idea of what you're doing when you're at work - sitting at your desk, typing stuff, maybe talking on the phone every once in a while. Your weekdays are pretty predictable; your friends could use your routine to set their watches. You're at work. We get it.
So here's a tip: Wait until you either have something clever to say or - godforbid - something happens before you update your status message. A sandwich (good or bad), an observation about the upcoming election, a funny encounter in the hallway - it doesn't have to be much, but it has to be something. Here's what I don't need to know: that you're still at your desk. I KNOW you're at your desk. It's a weekday during normal business hours. If your status hasn't changed, why do you feel the need to "update" it?
10. Thou Shalt Not Act Like You're On MySpace
Facebook: Not nearly enough glitter.
Welcome to Facebook - you're all grown up now and it's time to start acting like it. What does that mean? It means no more "pimping" out your page, no more "glitter" pictures, and no more crashing peoples' browsers with tons of annoying embedded junk in your profile. Are you okay with that? Does the idea of a social networking site that is actually USABLE appeal to you? Even if it means you can't make your page display blinking purple text on an animated rainbow background with Aqua's "Barbie Girl" playing every time the page loads?
Yes, you can probably add some "pimp" apps or something if you really want to, but to do so you're missing the point: Facebook and MySpace are completely different beasts. If you think a website with a white background looks "boring," if you can't go a day without filling out a survey and posting it as a bulletin, and if you can't stand the idea of only being friends with actual people on a social networking website (as opposed to inanimate objects, abstract concepts and Tila Tequila), well, then maybe Facebook isn't the place for you.
Or maybe I'm wrong. Feel free to throw a sheep at me and let me know.