I was born in 1959. A tail-end baby boomer, not a digital native. Still, I love what mobile Internet makes possible. And more specifically, I love social media. Really.
I even teach a class at the local high school's continuing ed program on the fundamentals of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The typical student is 65 years old.
In the class, I teach people the mechanics of those three networks. How to post. How to comment. How and why and when to "like." How to tweet and retweet. How to block someone. How to unfriend and unfollow. How to use hashtags.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about Facebook that made me stop and reconsider what I teach, however. She said, "Yeah, but what about how to do good Facebook? What's the secret?"
Here are my thoughts on the subject. In reverse order.
10. Acknowledge that you believe [insert name of presidential hopeful you hate the most] is an a**hole and move on. No need to comment daily.
Sixty straight days of "Donald Trump is the d***-wad of the western world" is exhausting. How about posting something about the candidate(s) you actually like? If that number is something less than zero (and it is fully possible), skip it. If you're angry, frame it in a way that says, "This pisses me off, I'm mad as hell, and here's what I'm going to do about it." Be constructive.
9. Present an emotional range.
No one is happy 24x7. No one is forever grateful or mindful or in a meditative trance. Or maybe they are but they're seriously medicated. Feel free to show a broader emotional spectrum --stuff that makes you happy, sure, but also things that make you cry, stir your empathy, get you fired up. Anger, but also love. Happiness and aggravation. Range.
8. Consider the quality of your photos.
Ask yourself this, especially before tagging someone: Is this what at least 70 percent of the seeing population would call a decent photo? Does someone look awful? Bloated? Miserable? Inebriated? Asleep and drooling? Don't do it. It isn't good Facebook and, more to the point, it is mean.
7. Cut off people who refuse to stop clogging up your page.
Some people have yet to figure out that paragraph after paragraph of refutation of a point is not only boring but also rude. Give them a gentle reminder. Then, if that doesn't work, ask them to cease and desist. If that still fails to stanch the flow, cut them off entirely. Unfriend if need be.
6. Adopt the zero tolerance approach to racism, sexism, Islamophobia, etc.
Non-negotiable in my book.
5. Have a sense of humor, for Christ's sake.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket. Lunatics are popping up everywhere and selfishness and narcissism are at record levels. It is powerful and authentic and all things wonderful to care deeply: about the planet, about our fellow human beings, about stray dogs and cats. Of course it is. But, please, for f***'s sake, have a sense of humor once in a blue moon, would ya?
4. Notice what other people are posting.
When was the last time you commented on someone else's post? When was the last time you liked something that so clearly mattered to your friend? Maybe you don't really care all that much about Susie's new macramé project. Fine. Would it kill you to click "Like?" She loves that project and she will feel great with the support. Do it. Be a mensch.
3. Resist the urge to always make it about you.
Let's be blunt here. It ain't always your party, cupcake. Resist the urge to turn everyone else's posts into opportunities for sharing more about yourself. Here's an example. Someone posts about a book they've just read. They say, "Best book I've read in ages! Loved it!" Wanna give good Facebook? Here's what you don't say: "Oh, yes! I read it galleys last year and I just knew it was going to be a success when it was made available to the public at large!" Awful.
2. Ix nay on the over-edited photos.
You're in your late 50's. Guess what? Your neck does not look like that. That's Snapseed, baby, not you. You do not need to post the photo that makes you look like Grandma Moses. But stop already with the Vaseline-on-the-lens look. Consider this: The less you edit, the less you have in common with Kim Kardashian. Boom.
1. Ignore all of the above if you need to. Or want to. But, please, stop feeding the beast of perfectionism.
If we're honest and real and, well, human, we'll give good Facebook. Perfect is our demon. Banish all notions of "the perfect life" or, sillier yet, "the perfect post".
These are ways to give good Facebook. These "rules" give us permission to be ourselves. To laugh at ourselves, too. To care about things. And to be passionate. And committed, yes. And also pissed off, too. They let us be inspired and to share our inspiration without turning into Mother Teresa of Rockingham County, gag gag. They say, Hey, be yourself - in all your human glory and silliness - and you'll be connecting in ways that are real and honest. And meaningful.
We baby boomers were all about making it meaningful. We were raised on that. We embroidered that stuff on our overalls and onto our painters' pants. Remember? Let's reclaim it! That's all there is, I believe, to giving seriously good Facebook.