I appeared on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Macaulay and Co’ programme last week, as the station celebrated the launch of its Facebook page.
This all happened around the same time as a woman in Los Angeles decided to document a blow by blow account of her labour – in graphic detail – through her Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The consensus seemed to be that most of us would rather this sort of stuff didn’t make its way into our News Feeds.
But what should? And what are the other Dos and Don’ts?
In the first of an occasional series of ‘Handy Guides’ here are my Rules Of Facebook.
The Rules Of Facebook
1 Don’t Put Us Off Our Lunch!
Sometimes it feels like your friends all live much more exciting lives. It’s tempting to get completely carried away when something very dramatic happens to you, that you start sharing every detail of it.
We don’t need to see photos of your trip to Accident and Emergency, or the blister on your foot after that 10K you ran. Or, as one woman Ruth Iorio did, shared pictures and updates in graphic detail as she gave birth.
She talked about contractions, explained how much pain she was in, like someone ripping her back apart, mucus, she told everyone how going into the butterfly pose helped, there were pictures…it really was a blow by blow account.
Ruth is a writer and wanted to draw attention to what she was going through, it is an amazing thing to document but, also quite a personal thing and a lot of people wish she’d kept it that way.
2 Don’t Tell Us What You’re Having For Lunch
So don’t be too graphic and dramatic but equally, don’t be too boring. If you’ve nothing to say, keep quiet! Just because Facebook is about ‘what you’re doing now’ it doesn’t mean you have to take it literally! You don’t have to share every mundane thought that comes into your head. If you’re at your local takeaway waiting on them cooking your order we don’t need to know that. And that tuna salad roll you’re having for lunch might be the best tuna salad roll you’re ever set eyes on, but that doesn’t mean I want a picture of it cluttering up my Facebook news feed when I’m trying to see what Maria Sharapova is up to.
3 If You’re Going To Tag…Ask First!
Say you’re on a night out with friends taking pictures of the friends you’re with. Facebook lets you upload pictures from your mobile phone and type in your friends’ names so the picture appears on their page too. Great if you all want the world to know what a fun time you’re having. Not so great if one of your friends took the day off work, saying they had flu. Now the world knows they’re out and having fun.
And also, while YOU might look amazing in that picture, I look tired and overweight and my hair’s gone wrong. So use some etiquette and ask before tagging anyone.
4 No politics!
I go on to Facebook because I want to get away from arguments about the independence referendum. And if we’re friends, it’s probably because you’re funny, interesting, maybe we share similar taste in music, films or we play sport together. So stick to that instead of revealing hardcore political views which, if I’d known you held them, I wouldn’t have become your friend in the first place!
5 Don’t Post ‘Chain’ Status Updates
‘I love my sister, sisters are brilliant, they’re so special, they light up the world. If you love your sister copy this and post it as your status update or a puppy will die and it’ll all be your fault’.
Just phone your sister and tell her how you feel about her.
6 Tell The Whole Story..Or Nothing At All
Radio presenters like to ‘tease’ the audience to keep them listening. ‘Coming up in 15 minutes I’ll tell you…’ That’s fine, but it’s annoying when our friends do it on Facebook.
‘OMG, I can’t believe what’s just happened!’
This is basically a cry for help, someone just wants a bit of attention. Everyone jumps in and leaves comments asking ‘what is it?’, ‘are you OK etc etc’ and then you find out that it’s nothing exciting at all – DFS have extended their sale or Lee Ryan has snogged someone else on Big Brother. And you hate yourself for falling for it in the first place.
7 It Doesn’t Have To Be ‘Me Me Me’ All The Time
Facebook is about ‘sharing’ but it doesn’t have to be about you all the time. Share something someone else has said. A newspaper or magazine, a celebrity, recommend a book your friends might like, share something funny that another page has said. Innocent Smoothies post some great things on their page, Mumnset, Red Bull, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Body Shop, BBC radio programmes…in fact…what I’d like to see Macaulay and Co do today is to post a bit of content that’s so good, so interesting, or funny, that my mother in law shares it with her friends.
8 Get Your Spelling and Grammar Right
Set an example and don’t use text speak. Get ‘Your’ and ‘You’re’ the right way round, be careful with apostrophes in words like ‘its’, read your messages back before you post them to make sure they make sense!