by Dana Wollman on February 2, 2008
The Facebook I know isn't for corporate networking. It isn't earnest, and it isn't particularly nice. The Facebook I know is for gossiping about the people living down the hall and finding long-lost friends so that you can gossip about them, too. But there's a method to this cattiness. Take my advice and you can unleash your online persona without looking like a creep.
Poke with caution. The poking feature is unique to Facebook and is meant as a cute way to say hello to someone. For some, though, it's an easy way to flirt, and you might come off as sketchy if you don't know the person well. Once, a guy I had chatted up at a party asked me out after I returned his poke (the date was so awkward that we didn't even friend each other afterward). Unless the recipient is a friend, poking means the same thing it meant on the playground in third grade.
Keep your private life private. Your "friends" will learn--and secretly delight in reading--about your hookups and breakups. If you're unmarried and cherish your privacy, either leave the field blank or (our personal favorite) "marry" a friend. And while breakups make for great gossip, dysfunctional relationships are just uncomfortable to read about. If you actually are in a relationship that's "complicated," share it with a close friend, not the world.
Lighten up on the apps. For those of us who have been addicted to the site since its launch, Facebook's Application Platform just clutters the site's simple interface and makes adults' profiles look like they belong to a high-schooler on MySpace. Facebook veterans are picky about which apps they download, and when they do decide, for instance, to send each other virtual cocktails, it's a guilty pleasure. When we see 30-year-olds doing this, though, we can't help but think that they're being a bit juvenile.
Three letters: T-M-I. There's a fine line between sharing with your friends and sharing too much with your friends. I won't make fun of you if you decide to join every Battlestar Galactica group in creation. I just don't care to read about it on my newsfeed when I sign in. Trust me, there's nothing more annoying than logging into Facebook and reading that John Smith has left the group "Harry Potter RULEZ." Frankly, the only reason I signed on in the first place was to see if my friends had posted photos from our latest night on the town.
De-friending is way harsh. Although people collect long-forgotten acquaintances by the hundreds, you'll look petty if you remove one from your friends list. To keep exes and frenemies at arm's length, create a limited profile instead.