Just because you’ve had Facebook since senior year of high school doesn’t mean you know how to use it properly. Veteran facebookers and Bwog staffers Sara Vogel, Amanda Erickson, Marc Tracy, Izumi Devalier, Avi Zenilman, and Lydia DePillis weigh in on the subtleties that—Bwog is sorry to say—still haven’t been figured out by a disturbing percentage of first-years.
You have just entered room “chat27354940560167238540.”
Bwog: Yes, everyone’s here! Let’s start with a general, easy one… How is high school Facebook different from college Facebook?
Marc: I think the first thing you’d have to look at is wall posting. In high school, walls are places to have conversations. In college, they’re not.
Lydia: Facebook is not a method of substantive communication. There should be no figuring out of logistics.
Sara: Meaning, wall postings to schedule going to the mall?
Avi: Yeah, college students use AIM, cell phones — or silly things like personal messages and face-to-face contact.
Marc: I find (my brother just graduated from high school) that wall posting on high school Facebook is about far more useless things than meeting up
Sara: Like what?
Lydia: how your summer was
Marc: stupid questions
Marc: but then you’re actually expected to answer them on their wall.
Avi: Wall posts are for obnoxious inside jokes and displays of wit, NOT “hey how are you’s”
Izumi: but my image of American high school life is that everyone lives miles away
Avi: [Izumi went to boarding school]
Izumi: So Facebook wall posting is actually a viable form of communication?
Amanda: I think it is considered a way to keep in touch in high school…
Marc: It’s also discourteous to crowd someone else’s wall with posts. I don’t post on someone’s wall if there is already a visible post of mine with occasional exceptions. But if I’m one of your ten most recent posts i’m going to refrain until I’m not.
Avi: I think, to an extent, it is more required of high school students to shamelessly display their social connections … its not that you’re asking someone what to do, but WHO you are asking.
Sara: ah… so its a status thing. But isn’t college facebook all about that too?
Marc: I don’t think it is a status thing. I think in college it’s appreciated intrinsically. It’s not a tool
Izumi: clearly the wall posting is supposed to make some kind of public statement about your social life.
Avi: Not as much–college is much bigger, so facebooking gives a sort of social shape and meaning to our lives. And its ABSOLUTELY about status in college–it’s just that a certain subtlety is required.
Amanda: Well, I think facebook messaging is basically useless. Emails are much better
Lydia: wall postings are inherently demonstrative. Which is why e-mails carry greater meaning
Bwog: Let’s move on to friending protocols.
Sara: What message does friending send, and when should I refrain from friending someone?
Marc: Also, should a friend ever be rejected?
Lydia: I absolutely reject people when I’ve never met them.
Avi: I like the policy “I only friend people who friend me first,” but, unless you’re David Chait (see print issue) that often can lead to self-esteem issues.
Marc: Oh I have fewer compunctions if I’ve never met them
Amanda: I think it’s mean to reject people. You may need a favor
Avi: Yeah, and the other problem with rejecting someone is that you’ll never be able to see their profile.
Marc: For non-Columbia people
Izumi: The only time I’ve rejected someone, and I did this retroactively, is when I found out that he was one of those guys who chased Asian girls around
Avi: I like when people I don’t know friend me — it makes me feel like a celebrity. One time a girl I hooked up with rejected me as a friend the next week. She only had 30 or so, so she was one of those picky types, but it was very sobering.
Marc: who who WHO?? Wow Avi that’s an awesome story
Lydia: Is it too forward to friend someone after you hit on them in a bar? I think most girls find it creepy.
Izumi: Well for some people it’s just a good way to keep tabs on budding relationships? So if I met someone who I thought was kind of cool, I would friend them so that in the event that I wanted to talk to them again I would know who the hell they are.
Sara: it’s much less intrusive than calling them, emailing them or IM’ing them.
Lydia: I’m generally anti-friend. But maybe that’s because I want to be like Dave Chait.
Marc: Facebook profiles are to be seen, not heard?
Avi: Yes, absolutely.
Avi: Rampant Facebook friending is obnoxious. If you get friended by someone you barely know, and see he or she has 900 other friends … its disheartening.
Izumi: seriously, your actual real-life social connections have to be pretty anemic in order for you to be desperate enough to friend everyone in your college.
Lydia: I think some kids see it as the modern rolodex, the bigger the better…
Bwog: Speaking of creepyness, what about poking?
Avi: Poking is excellent. My sister had the great idea: if you don’t like someone, you should be able to “douche” them instead of poking them.
Marc: yes you should
Marc: And poking is definitely underused
Amanda: Being poked is a big compliment, I think.
Sara: But nobody sees the poke. It’s only for you.
Lydia: Well, if you had something clever to say, you’d wall post. Actually I hate poking. I think it’s way too coy.
Avi: Coyness is an art.
Bwog: Is it ever ok to de-friend someone?
Izumi: If that person turns out to be creepy, you can absolutely de-friend them
Avi: It’s OK, but you have to be ready to deal with the consequences. (Which often are minor.)
Amanda: I’ve only ever considered it as a super passive-aggressive way to let someone know I’m mad at them.
Lydia: Makes you feel better though, doesn’t it Amanda?
Amanda: It does.
Izumi: People have to be pretty obsessive to figure out who defriended them, my friend count fluctuates all the time.
Avi: I’m not a fan of people de-friending regularly to keep their numbers around 100, that’s as desperately calibrated as friending 1000 people.
Bwog: what about the new trend of people who don’t let you find them if you’re not friends with them, unless you do some digging?
Sara: Well, famous college students have restricted profiles– with reason.
Izumi: How about people who refuse to get facebook profiles!?!?
Avi: People who refuse to get profiles usually are totally full of it. Just have a minimalist profile, and be done.
Marc: Well, the people I REALLY don’t get are the people with non-restricted profiles, but restricted in terms of searching, cause you search their names, and they don’t show up, but groups they are in do, and so it’s just two more clicks. It’s so inane
Avi: I get that — it’s the same logic of not putting your birthday — the people who find you are only the people you really want to find you.
Bwog: What’s the etiquette around birthdays?
Avi: Ugh. Don’t get me started on that.
Sara: I never say happy birthday to people– there are too many. But I like it when people say happy birthday to me!
Izumi: I think wall posting a greeting is pretty lazy
Marc: oh it’s fine
Avi: Yes, but I don’t put my birthday there so everyone who wishes me happy birthday is known to be someone who knows it’s my birthday. It’s a very “old media” feeling.
Lydia: there’s a narrow spectrum of people whom you know well enough to wish happy birthday too but not well enough to call them.
Amanda: I think if you want someone to feel like you actually want them to have a happy birthday, you need to email them.
Avi: Facebook is NOT the medium for the (birthday) message.
Marc: yes. Or call
Sara: or give them a big hug!
Amanda: Yes! A hug!
Izumi: Why can’t you give facebook hugs?
Sara: aw! Good suggestion for Zuckerberg
Avi: Along with douching!
Izumi: there should be pokes, douches, and hugs
Bwog: OK, let’s talk about photos?
Avi: How should you go about picking your facebook pic?
Amanda: Well, there’s the ‘look how hot I am’ facebook picture
Izumi: a) no shirtless photos, b) no alcohol/drugs
Avi: I think any picture of you holding a drink — unless you are wearing really fucking excellent formal wear — is totally off limits.
Izumi: And c) no photo that you clearly took yourself,
Marc: Actually there’s a small global facebook group of people who’ve taken pictures of themselves in a mirror, it’s called mirrornauts, and I actually like that concept
Izumi: d) no cellphone pictures, e) no prom pictures
Bwog: ok… what about pictures of you with other people?
Izumi: thats fine, BUT I think no pictures with famous people.
Avi: I had a friend who one time put up a picture of her with Wolf Blitzer
Izumi: It really bothers me when people use pictures that were taken with others but crop it in such a way that you can see one arm in the corner
Lydia: oh GOD that’s annoying
Izumi: also, no pictures with mayor Bloomberg
Avi: Also, if you have a girlfriend/boyfriend and you want to announce it, use your “relationship status” for it. Don’t put a picture of you with your beau as your main pic.
Sara: Question, what about friending someone whom you know really well but never facebooked. ie: I just facebooked Marc today?
Marc: Yeah how were we not friends? I’m constantly surprised by who I’m NOT friends with because I so rarely friend people. Often I find the impetus for friending people is making albums because you can’t tag someone with a link unless you’re friends with them.
Bwog: When is okay to untag yourself in someone elses photo?
Avi: Whenever you want. De-tagging is always OK.
Izumi: but doesn’t that send a message that you clearly think you suck in that photo?
Lydia: that you don’t want ugly pictures of yourself.
Izumi: yeah, but its like admitting your suck
Sara: something I think is cute is when people tag your name with random stuff. I have several pictures of me that are of really strange things– fairies, sinks, blonde chicks, my friend Adam’s stomach
Izumi: two words: iggy cortez
Marc: Yes i’m currently francois ozon and dustin hoffman thanks to iggy. I’m also a monkey giving dora the explorer (who is izumi) a high five
Izumi: i think this is his masterpiece:
Bwog: Can we talk about relationship status briefly?
Lydia: like, should you tell someone before changing the status?
Izumi: not if you’re married
Lydia: it’s rather awkward if they find out unexpectedly
Marc: which is why you should have nothing ever
Izumi: i never take married so seriously
Amanda: I agree
Izumi: no no no. if you’re dating someone, put it up
Amanda: but then you have to change it when you break up
Izumi: you have to let people know if you’re not available
Marc: just a beautiful nothingness, so you can have a situation where one party is “in a relationship with the other,” but not the other way around
Bwog: Eek. I haven’t updated my profile since summer before first-year. Is that a bad thing?
Lydia: That’s classy, it shows detachment
Izumi: it’s a sign of restraint
Marc: you can never criticize someone for not updating enough, and you can for updating too much. If i have a facebook fault, it’s that i update too frequently
Sara: haha… but it’s such a conscious non-updating, then.
Lydia: Facebook should never be talked about in real life
Sara: Haha… oh no…