Facebook Rules of Engagement
June 5, 2009
(Originally posted on Facebook at 01:17 GMT on June 5 2009. Original post available here ).
1: You are not a “fan” of sleeping, cuddles or sex. What you mean to say is that you enjoy it, and that you’re doing your best to show everyone else how much you enjoy it. But you can put this in your interests, or join a corresponding group (it’s hardly as if there aren’t enough of them). You can be fan of a public figure, celebrity, creative entity or sports team. But you cannot be a fan of sex; unless you’ve arrived at that point where you wear a scarf emblazoned with pro-coital slogans and chant in its support. And at that point, I already have the right to put you away.
2: A status update – or moreover, the changes between them – should bear some degree of interest. If at ten o’clock you post “x is in work”, and then wait until another two hours before posting “x is still in work lol!”, that’s not interesting. It would be far more interesting if you ran with a series akin to “x is in work”, “x is downloading contraband materials”, “x is frequenting Jihadist forums”, “x is being questioned” and finally “x is being waterboarded lol!” – particularly if you get through all of them on the same day.
3: Facebook is not for bitching, in any format. You cannot get away with “x wishes some people weren’t such backstabbers!” or posting long notes ranting about your enemies, knowing full well that either they will come across it, or sympathetic parties will reply with “aww hunni whats ron?g?? xxxxx”. When you are below the age of eighteen, some level of gutter-sniping is acceptable. But given that everyone on Facebook is eighteen or over, you cannot get away with it. If I find you doing it, I will use my mastery of chi techniques to melt the inside of your head from a very long way away.
4: Setting your relationship status to “It’s Complicated” should be banned. What’s so fucking complicated? If you’re both human beings, the complication ends there. Either you are with a person, or you’re not. It is NOT complicated, and even if it were, it doesn’t befit you to mark such a relationship in that category, as such an act would be tantamount to bitching (see above). The only way it could be really complicated is if one of you were a battered old Enigma machine, and the other was a gryphon. Then, and only then, will I concede that the relationship is not one of smooth and solid ground.
As for the happy-go-lucky ladies out there, please do not invent a relationship with a female friend, unless you are genuinely indulging in lesbianism. Us blokes are always cheered by the possibility of such Sapphic engagements, but are brutally broken down when we find out it’s just a quirky joke. If you really care that much about the other girl, then feel free to expand and enrich your relationship in ways which only this new, liberal, tolerant and enlightened age will allow. And please send us the photographs.
5: Too many applications spoil the broth. While I agree there are some quite nifty ones out there which allow facets of your personality to be expressed beyond usual facebookian norms, many are just jazzed-up viruses. Things like Vampire Wars, Zombie Wars et al are at their core fancy ways of stating “x has sent this application to n amount of people”, and leave it at that. If this is an attempt to show one’s popularity, it’s a bit redundant given the fact that everyone is provided with the number of friends they have in a strategically smug locale. If it’s the gaming side of things you’re going after with such apps, then buy a sodding game. Chances are you’ll have to spend money in order to upgrade the game to a feasibly competitive point, and at that point it becomes stupid.
6: Only detailed archives of the Second World War are allowed to contain more than one-thousand photographs. If your own photo album stretches beyond this point, you have stopped being a person and have instead become a cultural curiosity. At what point do you find it necessary to have over a thousand pictures of yourself? Do you really need all of those memories to be recorded in photographic form? Surely you just couldn’t go through the old-fashioned way of remembering things? Granted, things like holiday snaps, baby photos and the occasional memorable night out are perfectly acceptable, but chronicling that many photos seems a bit narcissistic to me.
7: Please, for Christ’s sake, apply a similar rule of moderation to your friends list. I accept the fact that Facebook is a social network designed to link people up, but these networks are only good so long as the connections are valid. I know you may well have lots and lots of relatives, friends, best friends, colleagues, employers, exes, school friends, university/college classmates, drinking buddies, housemates, people met on holiday/at festivals etc. and that you might want to put them on your friends list so as to generate so massive a number of friends it will render your less-connected peers to damp and squalid hopelessness. But the main bugger of the thing is, so does every other sod. If you’re now sat there thinking “Hang on – I don’t know that many people!”, I hereby charge you to try and remember everyone you’ve ever met, and then list their names alphabetically. See? Buggering difficult isn’t it?
8: Facebook stalking is wrong, in exactly the same way that real-life stalking is wrong. In your head, you’re like Hugh Jackman in Swordfish – you’re rapping away at the keys, joining the right networks and connecting up to the right circles of friends in order to view legions of sexy photographs of sexy people: and what’s more, the subject doesn’t know you’re doing it! They may even have one of those open profiles which you can access via Google, making you completely invisible to them. Yes, just lay back, sip another measure of expensive whiskey and admire their sexiness without any fear of reprisal – you’ve earned it, you suave hi-tech lothario you!
In actual fact, you’re just some pervert with a computer, desperate for a bit of masturbation that has some meaning behind it: neither the aesthetically pleasing but empty world of net pornography, or the possibility-laden but awkward path of abusing yourself to images of friends. You want to find someone who’s very sexy, but still remains tantalisingly accessible due to the fact that you have the same “friends” (I.e. your mum and her mum go to the same Mother’s Union meetings).
If you still fail to see the reprehensibility inherent in this, then imagine how you’d react if I told you I’d paid a man to watch you with an x-ray telescope, and that he’s wanking right now. But of course – this is completely mad, and is a purely hypothetical and impossible scenario. You and I would both be disgusted!
As if I’d pay the lucky bastard.
9: As with the rest of the internet, keep bloody chain messages in mind and do your best to restrain them. If you’re genuinely bothered by a paedophile moving into your street, rainforests being felled or some murderers being released back into the community, do NOT regurgitate the same stuff everyone else has said – take a step back and make a genuine effort to assert why you, personally, are pissed off. This will make your argument far more valid and give them a damn sight more integrity. Whether or not you’re bleating for a good cause, being a sheep is still not laudable.
When it comes to the somehow magic stuff of which the internet is apparently capable, exercise a bit of that long-abandoned human characteristic known as common sense. Karma will not care if you send such-and-such a message to ten people and make a wish – you’re still not going to kiss the love of your life, or inexplicably win a car. You’ll have far better luck getting off your arse and out into reality.
This is also true for supposedly “cursed” or “haunted” messages. Guess what’ll happen if you don’t send such-and-such a message to ten people? The girl from The Exorcist will leap out of your nose the next time you sneeze? Jack the Ripper will knife you in the dark? Nope. Do you really want to know what happens? It’s terrifying – but ten less people get that message!
(ASIDE – if your chose to send these messages on regardless, I hereby issue my own counter-curse, in which – just before you go to sleep – the sound of Sir Christopher Lee and Dani Filth accompanying one another to “Ring-a-Ring-a-Rosies” will emerge from nowhere, and the assorted puppet cast of Thunderbirds will drift out of your cupboard and hold an orgy).
10: No photo tags can ever be removed – unless it is confirmed that the person, item or animal in question is visibly not you. If you looked bad, or were too drunk to care, then it’s your own fault, and you must therefore suffer the consequences. Please note that this rule applies equally to both men and women, and that lady-folk have no more a right to de-tag themselves than men do. We must follow Cromwell’s example and be painted “warts and all”. While there are plenty of photos out there which make me look like the raised-by-forest-animals protagonist in a 1950’s film entitled Caveman in the City (“Can this outcast denizen of nature and yesteryear survive in the world of today?”), I am happy enough with my image to not delete them or urge the poster to sever my connection with such pictures. The ugly pictures are what make the good pictures look good.