Who doesn’t love family reunions? Food. Rolling through traffic for a couple hours. Food. Being questioned about your college major and plans for the rest of your life. Food. Listening to your uncle’s conspiracy theories. Food. Food. Food. Food…….
Once I manage to miraculously trudge through the impenetrable throng that is my family, I typically find the niche of relatives that I’ll be spending the next three and a half hours with. Before we begin our group therapy session addressing grandma’s borderline abusive pressure on us to get married before she dies, I always get this comment:
You have the best Facebook statuses….
Now I don’t mean to brag (actually, yes I do), but I typically think my Facebook statuses are pretty top of the line. It gives comfort that they break up the monotony of complaints about homework and pictures of totally average looking babies. It makes me feel accomplished that each “like” means a potentially brightened second of someone else’s day. And I feel validated knowing that I got a chance to put a little bit of “me” into a bottle and share it with about 700 other people.
My Facebook posting life was not always what it is now though. There was this period of my life where I was– well… a teenager. Shocking, yes I know, but during those years, my less-developed brain was more prone to fall into what I now consider to be “Facebook-Taboos.” That is, little slips in impulse, overuse of hashtags, and disregard for the craft of language. (No, I’m not taking this more seriously than I need to, I promise).
So, let’s get practical, shall we. Here’s a brief list of Facebook Status Do’s and Don’ts that I like to keep in mind, and of course, they’ll be accompanied with examples from the high, and very very low points of my Facebook career. And since I love ending on a happy note, let’s start with the Don’ts:
1. DON’T announce that you’re quitting Facebook via Facebook status.
This especially looks really bad when you’ve had enough with quitting, and you reactivate your account in three days. But I get it, you’re tired of internet drama and invites to Farmville (Yes, it is still a thing), but instead of contributing to the shallow, and reactionary culture that plagues so many about the internet, why not work to change it?
2. DON’T use Facebook as a platform for touting your conspiracy theories.
I once had a professor who thought it was a good idea to spend the last day of our class watching Alex Jones clips, and telling us how Sarah Palin is in a cult bent upon bringing about the apocalypse through her planning of 9/11 and her machine in Alaska that creates all the world’s natural disasters. (This actually happened, yes please pray for me and my class– half of whom believed him.) A university classroom is really no place for such poppycock. Neither is my newsfeed.
3. DON’T use the status box as a way to tell everyone what you’re doing
Observe high school me:
Was “band concert” more important than what I had for dinner or that evening’s Pawn Stars marathon? Debatable. However, there’s just no significance, no “So what?” moment to this status. What’s so great about this band concert? Did I have plans to jump off stage and serenade the high school love of my life with my rendition of “Hot Crossed Buns?” The world will never know. If you can’t express that “so what-ness” in your status, then leave it out.
4. DON’T use Facebook as a Means to Solely Express Your Anger.
The wonderful thing about writing is that it gives us that outlet for funneling our emotions out of our bodies, and anger is definitely one of those emotions that needs some funneling out. But we’re creatures that are too sophisticated to only feel anger. So yes, it was totally uncool for your roommate to build that farm of fire ants in your room, but only lashing out at him online isn’t going to solve anything. Use Facebook as a tool to take those moments in life that really get your goat, and usurp them by looking at them from a humorous or insightful angle.
And now, here are a few DOs.
1. Respect and Diversify Your Punctuation
Believe it or not, there are more punctuation marks than just question marks and exclamation points. The punctuation gods gave us so many tools at our disposal; I often find that semi colons really get the job done. And don’t even get me started on em-dashes–that implied pause they create is exhilarating.
2. Be Ironic about Contemporary Social Trends
At least 1/5 of your newsfeed will quote V for Vendetta on November 5th. And come the 6th, no one will remember or care that they did. Use Facebook to go against the grain, and give your cyber buddies a bit of a chuckle. You’d be amazed how much people really appreciate it.
3. Include Unique and Vivid Analogies
The internet is a great place for comparing drastically different things. On a single website, you can find people discussing European economic policy, cats, and the beauty of Kate Upton. Because discussion on the internet can be so diverse, comparing two things that may, at first glance, have absolutely noting to do with each other not only makes your writing more interesting, but it also totally fits in with the vast range of topics in online discourse.
4. Appreciate Life’s Minutia
Remember how a while back I advised you not to make your posts a transcript of your day? At first glance, I may seem to be contradicting myself, but I want to make one key distinction between this final, important piece of advice and point 3 in my Don’t section. There’s more that goes on in each moment in life than just “going” to an event. There are experiences. There are emotions. There are sights, smells, tastes, and inappropriate but warranted gut reactions. Tell us about those! They’re what make you, and what would otherwise seem like just a normal life, interesting.
Hopefully this list of Dos and Don’ts will inspire you to shake up the content of your Facebook status posts and add a little spice to your news feed. If you get any remarkable reactions from your beautifully-crafted statuses, share them in the comments below.