Facebook is a SOCIAL network. Social means interactive. Everything you post on Facebook can possibly evoke a response from your friends. And if, after sharing something, you don't think your post is funny, or smart, or relevant, or interesting -- you can delete it.
Here's what not to post on Facebook.
1. Don't be a bummer on a holiday.
Facebook is a community. Your Facebook connections, whether close friends or near-strangers, read your posts as they scroll through their home pages, digesting little bits and pieces of you as you share things about yourself. If you're having a crappy day, they'll sympathize. If you have something to celebrate, they'll congratulate you. If you post a photo, you're more likely to get engagement than with anything else you might share.
But think carefully about posting things that will be depressing or insulting to others. If you don't like Mother's Day, maybe it's best if you just stay off of Facebook that one day of the year. Even more emotionally charged is Father's Day. If your father was a son-of-a-bitch, you might want to unplug on the third Sunday in June.
2. The Medical Mafia.
I find it disturbing when people -- not medical doctors or nurses, just regular folk -- write posts about the dangers of conventional medicine and medical treatments, with links to articles about the miracle effects of cashews or vegetable smoothies in treating everything from mental illness to terminal cancer.
Not only is it irresponsible for laymen to prescribe cures for ailments, it's insulting to tell those who have used medication to treat any variety of illnesses that they're doing it wrong. And for those who are currently facing down sickness and see these posts, it might possibly create a sense of fear and uncertainty about the medical advice and thoughtful decisions they have made.
You never know -- what you say might be the reason someone with clinical depression goes off their meds and falls into a deep funk, or worse.
It's one thing to crowdsource for the best allergy medicine. It's quite another to proclaim that all medications are bad for you and if you'd just eat right and take deep breaths, you could cure what ails you.
3. The humblebrag.
You know these posts, even if you're not familiar with the term. You probably don't like them anymore than I do.
- "Wow, can't decide between a cruise on the Mediterranean or a resort vacation in Cabo. Input welcome!"
- "OMG my inbox is so full I'll never get through it. So busy!"
- "Oprah wants to read the galleys for my next novel. Not sure if I'm happy about it -- she can be so critical."
Stop, just stop. If you have good news, by all means share it. Don't turn it into an opportunity to get your friends to proclaim how wonderful you are. They'll do it anyway without this kind of post.
4. And then there's the most annoying thing of all ... vaguebooking.
For those unschooled in this, vaguebooking is a post on Facebook that alludes to either something wonderful or something bad without giving any details:
- "Can't believe a friend would treat me this way. Lesson learned."
- "Best day EVER!!! My life will never be the same!"
- "Nothing will make this better. Today just sucks."
- "You wish you were me right now! So pumped!"
Come on, people. Either tell us or don't tell us. All you're doing with updates like this is manipulating your Facebook friends into asking "Why? What happened? Are you ok? What's the good news?" If you're going to tell them anyway, just say it. If you're not going to tell them, then just don't share at all.
Think of it this way:
- If you walked into a friend's home and she was enjoying an afternoon with her mother, would you tell her it was making you sad because your mother is an evil shrew?
- If you went to visit a friend in the hospital, would you tell that friend to take out the IV that was delivering medication that she might desperately need?
- Would you call a friend and say "I've just gotten the best news of my life!" and then hang up?
- Would you be self-deprecating about your accomplishments with your employer? Your family?
Facebook is more than just a place for you to say what you believe and think and feel. It's a place where others will read your posts and react to them. It's not a lecture hall, it's a neighborhood. Think about what you're saying and consider if you would say it to 500+ people in person. You are not shouting in an empty room, you are broadcasting to all of your Facebook friends.
Be as considerate of your virtual connections as you are of your real life connections.
Previously published on Midlife Boulevard