I was among the earliest people (outside of Harvard people) to start using The Facebook - so early that it was still called The Facebook when I joined.
It was 2004 - my junior year at Boston College - and I was studying abroad in Florence. I remember getting an IM (because that was still happening) from a friend who didn't go abroad about this new version of Stalker Net (what we called the BC internal Facebook system) for Boston-area college students. In those days (ohmygodI'mold) you had to select your school from a pull-down menu of, I think, five options? Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, Boston College, and something else.... I was at an Internet cafe booking a RyanAir flight from random-town-outside-Rome to random-town-outside-Barcelona for 3 pounds on the afternoon that I joined.
The Facebook is nothing like it was back then. Like, when I joined you couldn't upload pictures and there was no Newsfeed. It was pretty much just stock-piling friends and then poking them. If you asked me then if it would become the most ubiquitous element of our on and sometimes offline social lives, I'd have said no. But I also thought Twitter had a shelf life of a month.
We have come a very long way - too far, I'd argue. And so in honor of the release of the The Facebook movie (if you're going to use the font, just call it that) I'd like to share my set of rules for engagement on the site - a list of behavior and activity parameters I think we should all be following because they make moral, logical, and social sense.
- Rules #1 - if you friend someone who, when they see your name in the subject-line of the ________ has-requested-to-be-your-friend-on-Facebook e-mail will go who is that?? - you are required to send a message with your request. Anything from, "Hey Jessie, it's been AGES, hope you're well" - if I haven't spoken to you since 3rd grade. Or, "Hey Jessie, I'm ________ a friend of _________" if I will otherwise have no idea who you are. I have been trying to think of a real-life-scenario metaphor to explain how weird this would be if you did it to someone live, but there is no comparison. Just, if you think there's a chance my reaction is going to be, "ummmm?what?" - try to prevent that with a sensible, personal touch.
- Rule #2 - If you wouldn't say it at full volume across a crowded room of everyone the person knows and cares about, don't write it on their wall. Examples include: "Did I hear you broke up with _______?" Or "Whaatt? Quitting your job next month and moving to LA??" Or "Do you remember anything about last night?" The wall is a place that everyone can see.
- Rule #3 - If you are of the level friendship/relationship/marriage where you could text whatever it is you've decided to post on their wall directly to them, please do so. I think it's wonderful that you want your baby to have an amazing first day of work. I'm (pretty) sure your baby thinks it's wonderful to. I'm just not sure why we all have to be a part of that personal display of your private love. Same goes for, "what you up to tonight dog?" We have gchat/bbm/texting for a reason.
- Rule #4 - If you look at a picture you've taken of another person and think anything less than, "this is a fair representation of this person's face and body" - don't tag them in it. That's mean.
- Rule #5 - Status update should be updates on your status: short descriptions, messages, thoughts, links or the like. 250-word paragraphs (fine, 200 if we're not counting exclamation points and emoticons), three-times a day recounting your every move are overkill. Start a blog.
- Rule #6 -"It feels like angels are dancing on my soul when you hug me" is not a group nor is "long text messages about how someone feels about me makes my day :)" - yes, the joining of a group is now "liking" and you can technically "like" the concept of those things, but - just - stop. Alex, this means you.
- Rule #7 - Any status messages or wall postings relative to a TV show that any percentage of the viewing public might not yet have seen should be avoided at all cost. I live in LA now so this is even more of a problem, but no one watches TV the night it's on anyway, so don't ruin it.
- And finally - Rule #8 - Just use your actual name as your profile name. Anything else is bizarre. Anything with hearts, stars or like shapes in it is criminal.