When you type the word “Facebook” into Google, one of the first results explains that Facebook is “an online social networking service.” I’m sorry, what was that again? A social networking service. Facebook’s entire purpose is to help you better connect with your family and friends. Maybe you have family members that live in a different state – or even a different country – and they want to hear about how your new job is going or see holiday photos. Maybe you met some pretty rad people in college, but now that you’ve moved back home for the summer – or for good – it’s one of the primary ways you keep in touch. It is a way to have access to all the updates, big or small, by the people that matter in your life.
So then, why is there so much shaming about the way people use Facebook? Why do people act like you can only post so many times a day, and only about certain subjects?
I don’t mean to disregard some general rules of etiquette, of course. I’m not advocating posting thousands of photos of your new baby, tagging photos of your drunk self from that party you went to over the weekend, or hashing out your latest argument with your spouse in status updates… But otherwise, what’s so bad about sharing your life?
How have all these unspoken guidelines come about? Why is posting one or two examples of your photography a good thing, but uploading an entire portfolio bragging? Why are girls criticized for one too many selfies, and couples trashed for posting even a hint of sap on any day that isn’t a major anniversary?
A lot of people say you shouldn’t post silly little updates like “just got back from the gym!” because they get broadcast to everyone on your friends list and many of them don’t care. And I will agree with that. If you are the sort of person who has added everyone to your friends list that you’ve known from grade school to the present day, that could be hundreds – or sometimes thousands – of people. Inevitably, most of them stick around to hear about major events – engagements, weddings, employment changes, births of children – not see photos of you in your workout clothes.
So yeah, I am completely sure that 500 people won’t be riveted by what you ate for lunch today. But if you’re selective with who you keep on your friends list, narrowing it down to 100 people or less, they may very well be interested.
And if you find yourself irritated by someone’s posts, whether they are spewing their religious beliefs or taking daily photos of their dog, then maybe you should evaluate their friendship. Is it someone you are genuinely close to, or someone you rarely talk to, don’t want to offend by unfriending them, or otherwise keep around “just because”? If they don’t really matter, don’t be afraid to cut them out. Clear the clutter from yours newsfeed, and make room for the things you actually want to hear about.
Then after you are done, feel free to go ahead and post that selfie in the cute outfit you threw together today! Or write on the wall of your significant other that you think they’re the bee’s knees! If someone who is merely an acquaintance is bothered by it, then they can get the fuck out. And if a close friend thinks you’ve posted a few too many hearts and kissy faces lately, then they should have a polite word with you about it – or just get over it. Because really, no one should be trying to dictate what you can and can’t post.
Dr. Seuss said it best: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”