Facebook pages are like arseholes; everyone’s got one. I use mine for party organising, keeping in touch with far-flung friends and staying abreast of the latest developments in baby animal videos. You know, important stuff. I will admit that occasionally when I’m using the lavatory or waiting for the bus I might take a few minutes to check out the profiles of the few people I keep as ‘friends’ because they are such entertainingly deluded, self-important dickheads, but all the shit I post publicly on Facebook myself is for jokes. There’s no meaningful information on there (I appreciate the irony of writing this on a blog that has previously discussed, amongst other things, the time I accidentally bought a giant, purple vibrator). However, I seem to be in the minority. There are millions of people out there who use Facebook – and Twitter, Instagram, FourSquare, Tumblr and the rest – to give out information in ways that are actually quite dangerous. There have been studies that have shown how burglars often use social media to pick out their marks and work out when to target them. Sadly, not enough people have twigged that posting a photo of your shiny new MacBook Pro and then announcing to the world that you’re heading off into town for an all-night bender is an absolutely retarded thing to do. You may as well walk around Tottenham dressed only in a string of diamonds and an enormous sandwich board that reads ‘I’ve got loads of valuables and can’t run very fast!’
But aside from putting yourself out there as easy prey for petty thieves and stalkers, there is the much less serious but still very real danger of making a complete arse of yourself in public. If you’re unsure, fear not! Here’s a handy-dandy guide to not being a bell-end on Facebook.*
*Actually posting your bell-end on Facebook not recommended.
THE LONG VERSION
The Great Unwell
There was once a time when one’s health was considered a private matter to be discussed only with physicians and immediate family. Nowadays, though, it’s increasingly common for people to plaster their Facebook page with updates on their various ailments and maladies. If this is you, it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that nobody gives a shit. Yes, I know as a society we’re become acclimatised to the sort of thing that would probably have made our grandparents pour bleach over their eyeballs – I blame the weekly carousel of putrid testicles and arsehole excavations on Embarrassing Bodies – but we really, really do not need to know about your smear test.
Now, I am exactly the sort of person who should never go into doctoring, nursing, Good Samaritan-ing or any other profession that involves openly caring for other human beings. It’s just not my bag. Unless you have something very serious wrong with you – and you probably don’t – my advice is to get a Lucozade down and stop your bellyaching. If there IS something seriously wrong with you, then a private message or phone call to your real friends is probably more appropriate. I don’t have the capacity to care about all 430 of my Facebook friends, so unless you owe me money and might die, or are an actual mate – you know, someone who’ll cry properly at my funeral – then I’m not really interested. Sorry.
The Attention Whore
Understandably, some people have a problem with airing their dirty laundry unprompted on the internet, so they post something that they hope will titillate their friends and followers enough to ask what the matter is. After all, it’s not over-sharing if somebody asks, is it? Consequently, cyberspace is littered with inane statuses like ‘never knew I could ever feel pain like this’ and ‘this is the worst day of my life’, not forgetting, of course, the simple but devastatingly effective sad smiley. If the ruse works, some of the original poster’s Facebook friends will comment something like ‘omg babez, whut’s wrong!?!??!?!?!??!?’, which gives them the green light to tell the world – often in glorious, technicolour detail – about their break-up, abortion or whatever other sad shit has just happened to them. Not that these things aren’t important or worth talking about – of course they are – they’re just not for Facebook.
The Perpetual Dieter
There are some people who feel the need to inform the world of their latest triumphs in their eternal quest to achieve the figure of their dreams. I cannot for the life of me comprehend how anyone could classify this information as interesting enough to be shared online, but it seems to be quite a common phenomenon. Fat people: I am happy for you but post your latest weigh-in on the Weightwatchers forum or somewhere more relevant because on Facebook it comes under the heading of mind-numbingly banal. Yes, I’m sure your battle with egg custard tarts and bacon rind is a beautiful journey, but it really isn’t interesting to anybody except you.
Conversely, smug, skinny-ass bitches: when you post on Facebook about how many calories you just burned in your circuits class or Instagram a picture of the salad you just ordered, you are actively giving people reason to hate you. They’re not burning with jealousy, they just think you’ve got your head shoved so far up your own arse you’re oblivious to conventional social norms. Particularly pathetic are the disembodied torso pictures taken with smartphones in a full length mirror. Blokes do this too to show off their abs; God knows why. Any favour curried with the opposite sex for having such a killer physique is immediately outweighed by the sheer wankery of putting it online in the first place.
You know the girl who uploads a photograph of all her birthday presents with the caption, ‘teehee, I’m such a Daddy’s girl :)’? Or the one who posts a photo of ‘randomly’ placed carrier bags from their latest ‘haul’ from Selfridges? How about the people who take photos of their new iPhone or Mac and upload them to their Facebook and Twitter accounts? This seems to be a phenomenon almost exclusively amongst Apple fans, I suspect primarily because Apple have a large core base of cooler-than-thou iDouches who buy into their marketing ploys in a bigger way than other brands. Such people think a £400 phone is the last word in status symbols and like to flaunt them at every opportunity. On the contrary, tiny-minded white plastic fanatics, we are not impressed by a photo of your shitty phone. It’s a phone. Everyone has one, and I’ve already seen fifty the same today just by getting on the tube. Most electronic gadgetry is now so commonplace and unremarkable that boasting about it is sort of like boasting about having kidneys or a ceiling. Unless it is some sort of special limited edition that can talk to animals or make poached eggs, don’t bother.
I know from the highly entertaining blog ‘STFU, Parents’ that this is only going to get worse once my Facebook contacts start popping out sprogs. I swear when I was a child parents would bitch about their kids and get mildly competitive over whose offspring was the most misbehaved, but nowadays parents seem to spend their lives aggressively competing against one another, who can buy their spawn the most, whose kids are the brightest, cutest, most talented. Considering that such things are usually subjective and everyone is always going to think their own kids (/dogs/cats/boyfriends) are the best, I’m at a loss to explain why people do it with such fervour. It boggles the mind.
The Bunkum Bum-Chum
Coming broadly under the same category as the Braggart, the Bunkum Bum-Chum likes to brag most about where they’ve been and who they’ve been with. Desperate to reassure world that they having being sitting around on their tod like a little Larry, the Bum-Chum spends their time photographing themselves in night-club bogs, tagging their mates in real time and bigging up their BBFs in public displays of online affection so nauseating that even a maggot would gag. Often bumchummery is reciprocal, so often on Facebook and Twitter you get multi-way exchanges where everyone is basically just having a gay old time sniffing each other’s farts.
BB-Cs are often first degree Photophiles (see below), but also like to use those apps where you tag yourself in a location to tell everyone where you’ve been and how awesome and cultured and shit you are. Bitch please, I don’t care about the afternoon tea at the Ritz you blatantly got on Lastminute.com at 50% off. Paying £29.99 for an Earl Grey and a scone doesn’t make you classy bird or middle-class or whatever it is you’re aspiring to, it makes you a fucking idiot. And a pretentious one at that.
The Vengeful Ex
Depending on how blinded by self-righteous rage they are, the Vengeful Ex will spill all the gory details of their recent break-up to anyone who’s interested (and everyone who isn’t). Why people embarrass themselves like this I will never know, but they’re probably the least infuriating of all the Facebook goons because they’re so wildly entertaining, ESPECIALLY when the Vengeful Ex’s previous paramour is still able to see the thread. Usually they’ll do the dignified thing and just remove it from view, but sometimes they’ll wade in and shit really starts hitting the fan. Nothing like a full-on domestic on Facey-Bz for some ritual humiliation and a jumbo pity party to boot.
The Smug Married
On the flip side, the Smug Married is the person who is just so excited about being in a relationship they feel an insatiable urge to share their joy with everyone, and if that joy includes public declarations of undying love with hearts and smilies and other sick-making shit like that then so be it. It pissed off Bridget Jones, it pisses off me and I’m sure as fuck that it pisses off the 99% per cent of the world who keep that sort of stuff private.
Now, I’m not saying you should exclude your significant other from your Facebook profile or never mention them ever, of course not. When we’re in relationships, the other people rightly and understandably become big parts of our lives. All I ask is that you just try to refrain from posting all 50,000 of your holiday snaps, ANY pictures whatsoever of you shoving your tongues down each other’s throats or mentioning them in EVERY SINGLE status. Unfortunately, it does make you look a bit like you have no other mates. Nice pictures of you guys at your cousin’s wedding, yes, sickening pictures taken MySpace-style on a pillow backdrop where you’re pretending to be asleep (creepy!) or look like you’re actually being penetrated, no. NOT for public. Bad.
Last but not least, the Photophile invariably encapsulates at least a few of the above. These folks, bless ‘em, are so convinced of the spellbinding nature of their day-to-day lives that they spend many, many hours a day photographing, editing and uploading content with their smartphones. People are social, visual creatures. We like knowing – roughly – what people have been up to and seeing pictures, but thirty photos of the chocolate Smartie cake you made your great auntie Les for her seventieth is overkill. Tone it down and have a bash at actually living life (i.e. from not behind your phone camera lens).
THE SHORT VERSION