Ah, Facebook. The most essential tool of a stalker/gossip-mongerer’s trade, the online Filofax for one’s social life and one of the most infuriating communities you’re likely to be immersed in. You don’t really know someone until you’ve seen their online flaws, be it deadly dull status updates, constant streams of oh-whoops-how-did-this-camera-get-here photos, or a relentless bombardment of games requests on a scale not seen since you deleted your Bebo account five years ago. In any case, I’m here to help by providing a helpful guide to avoiding the things that make your Facebook friends want to throttle you – or, worse, defriend you.
- You are not a master photographer/model combo. STOP UPLOADING PICTURES OF YOURSELF THAT YOU TOOK WHILST POSING IN YOUR ROOM.
If it’s the occasional one, or you just had a radical make-over – for example, if you shaved your head, dyed your eyebrows blue and had a Pikachu tattoo over your face – then fair enough. I’m not begrudging you the odd moment of vanity. No, I’m just talking to the people who have albums and albums dedicated to their own mugshot, despite the fact that they’re pulling a face more akin to a Tyrannosaurus Rex than a model, and then have twenty consecutive photos that look exactly the same. Variety is clearly not the spice of their life.
Some cam-whores get absolutely coated in make-up before posing, to the point where you wonder what happened to the giant arachnid that donated its legs to- oh wait, they’re eyelashes with a bucket of mascara tipped on. Just because many great artists have made their masterpieces with paint and palette does not mean that painting yourself in swathes of foundation turns you into a work of art; it actually makes you look like you fell face-down into a soggy clay pit and forgot to wash afterwards. You don’t have to go au naturel if you want to look nice, but you don’t need to put blusher on clown-style, ok?
Another branch of the species insists on photoshopping photos until every blemish is pixellated into oblivion. In some ways this is worse; you don’t just want to see how attractive you can be in real life (even if that standard of ‘attractive’ is Katie Price-style), you want to pretend you’re an absolute babe with mad editing skills when actually it’s bleeding obvious you just mullered yourself into perfection on picnik.com! Step away from the Contrast slider and take a good long look in the mirror – providing your non-edited countenance doesn’t break it, that is.
The worst thing about these photos are the people who like them and leave obsequious comments like “Oh ma god babe u look stunnin xxx”. Photo fangirls are either blind or in thrall to desperate tricks with foundation and/or computers, and photo fanboys are just looking for a lay. But then if you’re practising either of these trades, you’re probably as insecure and attention-seeking as hell. If you’re not, then that’s how you’re coming across. Why don’t you leave the camera alone and go and do something more worthwhile with your time, eh?
2. Your sickly, theatrical declarations of undying love to/about your other half don’t present me with a picture of eternal love, they just make me think that you’re a suffocating girl/boyfriendzilla who’s in perpetual danger of being dumped.
There’s a Weezer song called ‘Love Is The Answer’. It’s not wrong. Love is certainly the answer to why I continually find myself wanting to strangle people on Facebook, and by ‘people’, I mean ‘nauseatingly love-delirious couples’. Now, if you’ve found your Beauty or Beast to complete your Disney fairytale life, good for you. I’m happy for you. Unfortunately, the more you express your undying devotion and commitment to your ‘baby boi/gurl’, the more unhappy I become. It’s not those forced and logistically impossible photos of you tickling each others’ tonsils as your profile pictures that are most stomach-turning (though they’re pretty gruesome), nor the excruciating poems that you write on each others’ Walls to apologise/articulate your love (which at least defuse the tackiness by being so bad they’re hilarious). No, it’s the ten statuses a day telling the world that “I love you soooooooooooooooo much” or “I have the best boyfriend/fiancé ever, he means the world to me, together 4ever babe xxx”.
Look: if you’re in a relationship, the chances are that you’re rather fond of your other half, and vice-versa. Maybe you sporadically want to shout your love and happiness to your friends! You could find a better way to do it than a gloopy status, and definitely a more romantic one, but perhaps it’s acceptable to do it once in a while. But it’s just infuriating when not only can you not stop telling everyone about your every date, movement and tiny detail of your relationship/lover’s life on the interwebs, but you then have to evidence your love by issuing a faux-profound declaration of l’amour between you. You might love your lover, but other people are beginning to hate you for your love-induced histrionics. That might not concern you for the time being – after all, you have love, a best friend, a bodyguard and a sex machine all rolled into one (the latter unless you’re a nun/monk-in-training or desperately asexual) – but when the love train gets derailed, you’ll probably regret your online schmaltziness. If you have to be a word-Casanova, can’t you just send your partner a private message or a text? Or, even better, tell them in person. That way, it’s more natural, more meaningful and, best of all, less exasperating to your ever-decreasing friends list.
3. Regarding statuses, I’m not just talking to the loved up… the more plaintive members of Facebook need to stop hammering complaints/whiny teenage angst song lyrics into their keyboard. Unless you’ve tried to make it amusing in some way, we don’t care. [Ditto boring Facebookers and boring statuses.]
I am a huge and vocal pessimist. Therefore you may think I’m being an absolute hypocrite with this point. However, unlike the online pessimists, I try to find the humour in a situation, however bleak. Obviously, some situations do not befit a humorous tone – death, illness, fear, relationship troubles. But when you’re just whining about everything, and taking yourself more seriously than Dr Sheldon Cooper, you should migrate to somewhere else. Try Twitter – it’s much better for ranting on, and has the added benefit that hardly anyone you know will be watching your meltdown! It’s also better for menial statuses or thoughts that pass through your head, for example: “I just weeded the garden”, or “I think I’ll email my friend”. Small nuggets of information that you feel better for verbalising, but don’t need to be put in the way of me and a good stalking session.
As for posting song lyrics… there are circumstances under which it is acceptable, the primary one being when they’re so hilarious you have to share them so other like-minded people with a sense of humour can appreciate the lyrical nous (example: “Flyin’ so fly with Virgin/Got a discount because I’m a virgin” and “Come to Dartford, pull a skaggy bitch, yeah, fuck it/Guaranteed to be more greasy than any Kentucky bucket” from 40DUBst’s excellently awful songs ‘Holiday’ and ‘Welcome to Dartford’). However, most song lyric statuses are Paramore or anguish-stricken generic pop-punk bands trying to muster some lyrical gravitas and failing miserably, and they’re then thrown online as a cowardly and badly-veiled attempt to confront someone the post’s author has recently been annoyed by. The thing is that these attempts at confrontation just make the author look more weak than they already are by having resorted to lyric confrontation. For a start, you’re not using your own words, you’re using someone else’s; then you’re not even quoting a good song! It’s all very awkward and cringe-inducing for the elder adolescents acting as voyeurs to their more youthful, GCSE-taking peers. Why don’t you leave the generic pop-punk bands to fester miserably in the dustbin of the ‘never-quite-weres’, thrash out your issues with the people face-to-face (or at least in a direct manner) and take time out to develop a sense of humour so you come across as having a personality instead of a whingeing fetish?
4. “______ ______ likes 7,813 pages.” You can’t be serious. Not even Santa likes 7,813 children enough to have them on his ‘Nice’ list. (Or Gary Glitter, but that’s a whole other form of ‘liking’.)
Facebook has some amusing pages. They go through little phases of themes, some funnier than others (swearing isn’t big or clever, but the “Like if you remember this mad cunt” about Brum nearly made me wet myself with amusement – something to do with the juxtaposition of childhood innocence and naughty fat swear words, I think, makes it so entertaining). Others are in-jokes aimed at certain niche markets (“A good Latin student never declines sex” is a fantastic example of this), some are ephemeral (anything to do with any sort of event – think the Royal Wedding or World Cup), some are to promote your friends’ endeavours, and some are just to fill out one’s info page. But no matter how witty some of them may be, there is no reason whatsoever to like thousands and thousands of them. Especially when you consider that a lot of said pages are ‘inspirational’ or romance-related bumf choked up by people attempting and failing to come across as being assertive or mature (the same way that sassy statuses tend to do). How could anyone possibly find it in them to like those horrific “He will love you, but then he will leave you and you’ll be so great without him that he’ll wonder what he missed out on” pages? Do people genuinely feel moved by that sort of crap?
You look at these serial-likers’ pages of choice, and realise that they’re like shopaholics. They don’t care what their next like is, they just need the adrenaline rush of clicking a button and seeing the ‘You like this.’ next to it. How else could you explain pages like “Like this if you’re on Facebook”? I suppose there could be an ironic touch to it, but there probably isn’t. It’s all so vacuous… –sigh, insert complaint about the youth of today here-