In Your Face(Book)!

CNN recently re-discovered something we have all known for ages, and concocted a list of “The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers”.

I will, for the moment, refrain from mentioning the people who are one’s friends on facebook but would never give you the time of day when you meet them at work, in church, or in a social gathering – that will come later.

The idea is to examine which sets of 420 characters, the maximum number allowed to define “What’s On Your Mind?”, really define a person, and pigeon-hole him primarily into one category, and not another.

My (facebook) friends who saw this gesture had a good laugh about it – and we added, subtracted, and modified the categories to make them more pertinent to our personal circumstances.

There have been complaints that some statuses are overly philosophical – mere cut-and-paste jobs from sites that regularly feature quotations. This is all too true, and it might happen when someone has nothing to say, and yet wants to maintain an online presence, and advertise himself as available if anyone wants to chat (read waste time). Others regularly post updates of projects in which they are involved, or post links to finished work. But some posts are mere verbiage, and some tend to brand their posters as braggarts.

Reasonable people indicate that should anyone want to read or watch anything they’ve done, they will provide an off-list link. But they will not pester you to do so, and ask you why you have not yet complied.

We all have friends who appear to do nothing except play games and take quizzes all day.

And what’s more, they always invite you to challenge them or participate in questionnaires. Then there are their direct opposites, i.e. those who are on facebook but never, ever, utter one syllable. This is odd, to say the least, when facebook is a “social site”. Just like the PBX telephone operators of yore who used to listen to conversations when none of the lights were flashing, so do these get caught out when, in e-mails or conversation, they refer to something you would have said only on facebook, to test the system.

The chances are that these people have joined this social site in order to keep tabs on others (that’s us!), and catch whiffs of anything that might be important in their line of work. Others join for easy access to people – so that they do not have to scour telephone directories or beg mutual friends for telephone numbers or e-mail addresses.

Some people will give you a frame-by-frame account of their day – but others will only tell you where they’ve been, what they ate, and what they wore, and drop names as if there were no tomorrow. CNN calls the former “Bores” – but, to me, so are the latter, as are those who post dozens upon dozens of photographs (mostly of other people, without their permission)..

The number of facebook friends you have is no indication of your popularity – but then, neither is your promise, threat, or declaration of intent to clean up your listing. Some people will accept anyone who asks to be a facebook friend (and this, as we know, has had dire consequences); others will send requests to befriend all those persons suggested by the system.

This could lead you to open yet another profile – or a fan page… for which you then proceed to obtain members by telling people whom you only meet on the bus to Birżebbuġia in summer that they are no longer allowed to be your friends, because you are streamlining the list, but if they want to keep up with you they an join your fan page.

CNN is also aware that some people treat facebook like a mobile telephone txt msg window, using cryptic abbreviations that can mean different things to different people. Sometimes, the messages are full of spleen, and clearly aimed at just one person – so there is absolutely no need to broadcast them to your 789 friends, is there, unless you are hoping that your 10 mutual friends will play postman. Some do, anyway – but in a creepier manner. People have been known to highlight-and-copy whole pages off facebook walls, and send them as e-mails to others who boast that they have “no time” and “no need” for facebook.

I am one of those who only skim through the first page of my wall; therefore, I am bound to miss a lot of gossip and links. But it was never my intention to watch other people wash their dirty linen in public, in the first place.

I cannot understand, for that matter, how people de-friend or even block those who post updates or game results continuously, as has been shown in a recent study. You can block links to games as soon as they turn up. We don’t have to read blow-by blow accounts of she-said-he-said sagas; just as we can skim over the usual trivial messages by this person… unless we realise they are a cry of help, in which case there are other ways we can communicate with this person.

If, like my own, your wall features posts by people of different religious persuasions, ethnic backgrounds, and nationalities, it makes for variety; and, by the way, you don’t have to ‘like’ or comment about anything… even if it’s a five-tier wedding cake that looks like a House of Cards.

Do not worry (and do not get angry, either) if people have ‘de-friended’ you because you talked about divisive topics such as gay rights, faith, politics, sex, or religion, or because they have accused you of stalking them. Remember that some people do not like having provocative or offensive comments on their walls – so you should at least respect that.

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