The Facebook Decalogue
1. Thou shalt not click ever deeper into the chasm of the abyss
Whether you ‘Like’ it or not, accepting a ‘friendship’ request is tantamount to signing a mutual stalking agreement.
However, should you find yourself scrolling through the profile pictures of some middle-aged ‘realtor’ in Paris, Texas at 4:21 am, then you’re in way too deep. Exploring the innermost reaches of the digital realm is not time well spent, trust me.
Similarly, discovering that Tallulah Shaftworthy, with whom you share no friends, competed in ‘Tough Mudder’ in Low Walker, 18 months ago will never be a useful piece of information to you. Not ever.
In fact, ‘No mutual friends’ should be taken as a handy indicator that you’ve reached the point where you’d be much better off just climbing up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire.
2. Thou shalt not speak Realpolitik
Let’s face it; Facebook was a ‘Harvard thing’ set up initially, to rate girls, not for political discourse, so best leave it out. That’s not to say it isn’t a good platform for posting a load of vacuous junk – of course it is – or poking a bit of fun at our politicians or commenting on the occasional piece of legislative nonsense or the odd bit of satire for personal, cathartic reasons.
But you just know that your heartfelt post bemoaning the steady privatisation of the NHS is likely to be sandwiched between a status from someone who the previous night “blakd oot frm jager shots nd vdka” and a YouTube video of a blind 3-legged kitten playing with a ball of dried poo.
Logging on to talk politics is a bit like showing up at the Stadium of Light on match day to discuss nomenclature in Dickens, so you would be best advised to leave the sanctimonious guff at the door; except on those, ‘special’ occasions.
3. Thou shalt not consider ‘Likes’ a valid currency of human worth
A cursory glance through ‘celebrity’ pages helps to place this load of old cobblers into perspective. Last year, for example, Lee Ryan, badger activist, celebrity Big Brother shitheel and ex-‘Blue’ warbler posted a photograph of a fresh tattoo on the bridge of his foot, ‘Art Ting’ in Comic Sans. It was shit, it meant shit and yet it garnered thousands of ‘Likes’.
In that particular case, the value of a positive mouse click or screen tap is extremely questionable. What I’m saying is, don’t be too miffed if your out-of-focus snap of a scabby donkey on Tynemouth Longsands only managed to attract one ‘Like’ from your least-favourite aunt living in Tynemouth.
4. Thou shalt not carpet bomb timelines
If you think about it, most conversations are simply people taking it in turns to talk about themselves, and there is no clearer example of that, than on Facebook; because everyone knows that while a doctor won’t entertain your inane pap, there is always someone on Facebook who will.
Posting status updates in the midst of an acrimonious divorce or prior to delicate haemorrhoid surgery is at best, ill-advised. However, watching someone else do it from the comfort of your computer can be top-notch entertainment.
It’s the attention-seeking equivalent of standing in a packed St. James’ Park announcing to all and sundry over the PA how you’ve discovered an unusual tussock of hair sprouting from your navel or that your behaviour psychotherapy isn’t quite going according to plan. But on Facebook, apparently, anything goes.
If I spent all my time in the real world talking about my over-relaxed sphincter and obliging people to watch videos of mangy dogs fighting over a watermelon, I would be sectioned, frankly.
Once again, the law is a simple one; don’t link your Facebook to your Twitter, Instagram or any of your other accounts. Your Stella artwork doesn’t need to be viewed across several platforms and smart-arsed quips about BGT, X-Factor or Eurovision should stay on Twitter. I mean, no-one wants to feel like they’re trapped in a lift with you, now do they?
And while you’re at it, try calling people by their given names rather than babe or hun.
5. Thou shalt not hold up Facebook as a mirror to reality
All over Facebook there are plastered dream job updates, pictures of idyllic lakes and treacly digital PDAs from nauseating couples; the whole arena is an airbrushed amphitheatre, fine-tuned to trumpet these nuggets of self-promotion.
And there’s nothing like an intense torrent of human PR to induce self-doubt; but of course, it’s an edited reality. I’m sure many people trip up the steps on the way to the pub toilets and tell women waiting to be served at the bar, that they have ‘chip-shop arms’ – well, okay, perhaps that’s just me – but the point is, they don’t all feel the need to ‘share’ these experiences. If you try digesting each piece of information with that in mind, it will make life online so much easier to assimilate.
6. Thou shalt not allow Facebook to inform your opinions about people
It is a mistake to psychoanalyse people from their Facebook profile pages, so you’d be well advised to resist the temptation to trawl through the 7,591 available photos. Remember, just because Tallulah Shaftworthy ‘Liked’ the film “Sex lives of the Potato Men” six years ago, it doesn’t necessarily make her a bad person; simply misguided.
Ensure that your opinions are rooted in real life. Fact is the most interesting people you will ever meet are likely have little time for Facebook. Maintaining a virtual persona will never be a priority for such people, as they will have twigged early on that the bigger fun lies elsewhere.
Unfortunately the trouble with permanently relocating to the infinitely superior Twitter is that when one of my ‘Friends’ discovers ‘an easy way to lose weight fast’, I’ll never find out what it is.
7. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy boss, and get caught
One of the most awkward aspects of Facebook and one the younger generation in particular has yet to suffer the consequences of, is its innate capacity to drop you right in the shit.
For example: you’ve pulled a sickie at work. You’ve called in to the office and your boss has swallowed every weary, sickly word, every sentence punctuated with a stuttering hack, you think you’re safe and you’re looking forward to spending a girlie day lounging around on the sofa in your Christmas ‘Onesie’, watching repeats of ‘The Great British Bake off’ and comfort eating fry-ups.
But Facebook does not tolerate indolence, it hates loafers, shirkers and shiftless chisellers; and it’s waiting, looking to catch you out. Just when you think you’ve got away with the slickest con since the Devil convinced people he didn’t exist; that’s the moment when one of your friends tags a photo of you posing with your moves like Jagger, Champagne cocktail in hand, in the burly arms of the bronzed Lothario you met at the bar around 4:21 the previous morning.
It’s also the moment a colleague of yours posts a captured image of the “Eeeee just double-dropped like a coupla of mental pills am BUZZZNNN!” text you sent them from the powder room the previous night, and you’re rumbled. It’s game over man, game over.
The same applies to adultery, hypocrisy, insincerity, bullying, telling ‘porkies’ and criminal activity. You see, our current social networking sites simply aren’t conducive to them.
8. Thou shalt not post passive-aggressive or ambiguous status updates
Cryptic shit like ‘Never felt this low’ or ‘Heart hurting’ are cynical, serpentine attempts to garner a swell of sympathy from anyone who vaguely knows you. If they had any sense you’d be ‘Unfriended’ in the blink of an eye because you’re vague and needy and pathetic; so cut it out. What you need is a bloody good a shake and a slap across the face with a wet dab.
And another thing, stop sending me your shitty game requests. If reading about your exploits on Farmville wasn’t galling enough for any right-thinking individual, sending out mass ‘personal’ invitations for us normal folk to join in with your time-sucking bollocks is tantamount scooping out my cornea with a hot teaspoon. Remember you’re not a 12-year-old girl any longer so stop inundating your ‘Friends’ with requests to crush candy, dash for jelly or create imaginary fucking farms.
9. Thou shalt exercise restraint with ‘Selfies’
Take ‘selfies’, by all means, but do it sparingly and in extraordinary or bizarre locations – I can vibe with that – although the cemetery selfie was possibly a trend too far. However, an incessant flow of ‘selfies’ shot in front of a dimly lit mirror is a depressingly sad sight; like some desperate plea, or cry for help.
‘Remember me, my friends? Well, I’m still here. In my. Hallway. With a. Mirror. And. An iPhone.’
No one needs to be kept appraised of your presence on this planet on a circadian basis, so exercise some restaint and stop changing your profile portrait 17 times a day. You may as well post a status every 17 minutes saying “‘Like’ me. Please. I’m tragic. And needy.”
And while I’m at it, stop it with all the photos of your nights out too; if you must, then choose the best ones and keep it to an absolute minimum. Okay, so you had a nice night out with your mates and that’s lovely. But uploading 7,591 images so that the rest of us can just about reconstruct your nightly adventures in real time, is seriously unhip.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that sharing photos of a blind 3-legged kitten with one ear, playing with a ball of dried poo, while skateboarding and wearing a monocle will not cure cancer. Neither will it stop war, overthrow careless governments or topple malignant dictatorships.
10. Honour thy offspring
When you get to a certain age you just cannot get moved for baby photographs. Babies everywhere you turn. In truth, all babies look alike to everyone other than their parents and grandparents; every last one. In spite of this, ever-so-earnest, oh-so-right-on modern parents insist on showering your timeline with interminable images of the same little ball of flesh, skin and bone.
It begins with that first ultrasound scan of the thing, splashed everywhere, when frankly it’s nothing more than a collection of cells. Some people would have you believe it’s not even a human being; not yet alive.
Whatever your belief system, what are you thinking, sticking it up on Facebook as your profile picture? Just take a moment and think about what it is you’re doing. You are uploading, for all to see, nothing more than a grainy x-ray of your womb, it’s the lobby of your vagina, for fuck’s sake, right up there, right up there on Facebook for all to see. What ARE you thinking?
Before you decided to do a breed and spawn a youngling, all you ever wanted to do was scream: “Look everyone. See how absolutely fab and gorgeous I am!” And now, you’re shouting: “See? Look how my conventional life is developing in line with orthodox expectations!”
And yet that’s not even the worst of it. The thing that really boils my piss is when doting young parents upload a picture of their baby for their own profile picture. Why would you do that? You are not your baby. Your baby is not you. That baby, your baby, is a unique individual, an independent, dependent (for now) human being, distinct and different from you.
One day soon, that child will call you a “fucking bitch” under its breath, ignore your phone calls, won’t visit you in hospital and will certainly not have you as their profile picture.
The miracle of childbirth is a truly wonderful thing; but with more than 7 billion people on this planet now, I think we can probably tone down the whole ‘miracle’ thing. For the benefit of the digital community, spare it the sixtieth consecutive picture of your little brat. No one wants their newsfeed to look like a crèche, or be made to feel like they’re scrolling through the adoption section on eBay.
I wholly appreciate that the urge to share the most profound of all human experiences online must be compelling, but do ease up on the baby photos, get some of them developed at Boots, perhaps, and show your parents. Oh, there’s a thought; one for the teenagers there.
The law is clear; do not post a baby scan photograph as your profile picture or upload endless baby shots, which your ‘Friends’ are far too polite to tell you looks like a fucking Maris Piper.
Okay, so I’m a joyless pedant
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this post…
Aw, sending *hugs*