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GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: HOW NOT TO BE A TOOL ON FACEBOOK

October 22 2012

Social Media can be a blessing… or it can be a hellworld. It’s all up to us. By which we mean you.

by Kate Nagy

A lamentable epidemic of Toolishness is raging across Facebook. Oh, not among my Facebook Friends – or yours, all of whom are of course completely awesome. But it’s out there. One hears things. Indeed, ever since Mark Zuckerberg threw up his very first post comparing the relative hotness of two of his Harvard classmates, Facebook Toolishness has been part of the cyber-landscape.

It doesn’t need to be that way.

Toolishness is difficult to define, and it probably means slightly different things to different people. But for today’s discussion, we’ll define it broadly as a certain self-centered, self-absorbed, self-righteous obnoxiousness that, like porn, we all recognize. No one aspires to be a Tool; no one tries to be a Tool; no one thinks he or she is a Tool. Fortunately, it is easy to avoid being a Tool on Facebook, and Geek Speak is here to show you the way!

We’ll get to that in a minute. First, however, a few words about what Toolishness is not:

  1. Stating an opinion about politics (or religion, or The Real Housewives, or Maroon Five, or whatever), no matter how off-the-wall or extreme.
  2. Verbally abusing, cyberstalking, or harassing someone. If you’re doing that, you’ve crossed the line that separates the mere Tool from the Pure Asshole, and you need to cut that shit out immediately.
  3. Failing to employ basic common sense. If you’re going to post a picture of yourself engaged in criminal activity or inform all 450 of your Facebook Friends that you’ve just enjoyed a hot and sweaty afternoon of consensual intimate relations with your married boss at the Bide-A-Wee Motel on the edge of town, you may or may not be a Tool but you are very definitely an Idiot, and I can only advise you to make sure that your privacy settings are locked down tighter than a nun’s virtue, because these are the sorts of things that can (and have, and probably will) come back to bite you on the ass.

Finally, what I’m about to say has nothing to do with anyone’s First Amendment rights. It should go without saying that no matter what anyone else thinks, you absolutely have the legal, moral, and spiritual right to post whatever you damn well please…just like I have the absolute right to assure you that if you do any of the things listed here? Congratulations, you’re acting like a Tool.

So without further ado, here’s HOW NOT TO BE A TOOL ON FACEBOOK:

Image courtesy serenityhunter.com

1. Put a lid on Teh Dramz.

… Especially Teh Cryptic Dramz. I have to confess that I have been guilty of broadcasting Drama in the past (“Hi, my name is Kate, and I’m a Tool.” “Hi, Kate!”) because the lure of the Cryptic Post is so seductive: You’re feeling a FEELING, and you ache for validation and support, but the backstory is complicated and maybe a little bit personal, so you confine yourself to posting “My heart hurts today” or “Just talked to the lawyer…there is no justice in the world” or “Liars suck. U NO WHO U R.” without context or explanation, and immediately dozens of Friends post “Oh no!” and “Hugs xxx” and “Stay strong!” and immediately you feel better. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

The thing is, your readers feel… left out. Although we may feel sad when you’re sad (and feel glad when you’re glad), we all secretly suspect that all your other Friends, unlike us, know exactly what’s up. We think we’re the only one who doesn’t know. Why won’t you talk to us? Why don’t you trust us? Why are we being excluded? Did we do something wrong? Or is it that…you’re acting like a Tool?

Throw your audience a bone. Tell us what’s going on. And if you have a beef with a particular Lying Liar, skip the passive-aggressively mysterious Facebook hints and confront him or her directly. You’re much more likely to get things straightened out, and as an added bonus your Facebook Friends will thank you.

Oh, and by the way, if you ever feel that it’s necessary for you to type “U NO WHO U R” for any reason… it really isn’t.

2. Don’t overshare.

If the people I just described don’t tell us enough about what’s going on, there are plenty of others who tell us way too much. These are the people who post videos of their Ceasarian sections, photos of the contents of their babies’ diapers (“Have you ever seen blue poop like this? I think Jaxon must of eaten a crayon LOL!”), the minute details of the drug regimen they’re on for the unfortunate social disease with which they find themselves afflicted, excessive braggage regarding the epic length, girth, and staying power of their partner’s magnificent man-tool, and the text of the marriage vows they recently made with Severus Snape on the astral plane. In other words, things that make readers cover their eyes and yell “TMI!”

Actually, I take that last bit back. If you’ve taken sacred vows with Snape, I definitely want to know about it.

But to recap:

NOT A TOOL:

Ainsley: Taylor made her first poop in her big-girl potty today!

Yay Taylor! High-fives all around.

TOOL:

Ainsley added 27 photos to the album Look at this Big Stinky Log – Taylor’s Potty SUCCESS!!!

Um. Thanks anyway, but I’ll pass. So will most of your friends who don’t have a scat fetish.

3. Don’t overshare on anyone else’s behalf, either.

Ainsley’s darling Taylor may not actually want to be known far and wide as the girl who made kaka in the potty that one time. And when you share other people’s private information, you’re basically begging for karma to land kersplat on top of your head. Accordingly, you will want to assiduously avoid posting such Toolish updates as these:

  • “Perks” of being a Mommy (LOL): Krislyn and Kayden have HEAD LICE. :-0 :-0 :-0
  • Woo-hoo! Madicyn finally gave up her V-card to Kyan Friday night! Way to go, gurrrl!
  • Hey everyone – prayers for my bro Charlie, who is filing for bankruptcy protection this morning. We’re here for you, dude!

You get the point.

Cute kitten: yes. Dismembered kitten: no.

4. Being gruesome does not equal Doing Good.

Please, please, please, no glurgy anecdotes. No lurid tales of child abuse, animal abuse, spousal abuse, drug abuse, or self-abuse. And while I’m on the subject, absolutely no photos EVAR of abused animals or aborted fetuses. Pictures like that are not going to “raise people’s awareness.” They’re not going to “show people the truth.” I have never heard one single person say “I used to be in favor of hurting animals, but then I saw this really nasty picture on Facebook and MY EYES WERE OPENED.” And I can promise you that if someone is old enough to have a Facebook account, s/he is old enough to be very well aware of the issues around abortion. Post a link to someone else’s site if you must – then people can take in the information or not, as they choose – but don’t post stuff like that cold. People who see it will not think you’re a crusader for moral justice or a courageous teller of truth. They may very well, however, think you’re a Tool.

By papabear7-d4qllb0

5. Direct challenges to a person’s loyalty or honor have their place. Facebook is not that place.

By my rough estimate, 100% of the MELODRAMA!!! I’ve seen on Facebook concludes with some variation of “Most people won’t have the BALLS to re-post this” or “My real friends will ‘Like’ this. U NO WHO U R.” You may be surprised to learn that the response of most reasonable adults to such an assertion is not, in fact, “Oh! I must immediately demonstrate the courage of my convictions by clicking ‘Like’ beneath this story – liberally illustrated with graphic color pictures – about the brave Army K9 Corps dog who was torn to pieces by God-hating gays during a pro-abortion rally.” Their response is more likely to be along the lines of “Honey, please. I haven’t seen you since junior high, I’m not your ‘real’ friend, I’m female so I don’t even have balls, I think your post is stupid and I’ve just unsubscribed from your feed. So there.”

Seriously, don’t malign people in an attempt to sway them to your point of view. It’s obnoxious, and more to the point it doesn’t work. It is, in fact, the action of a Tool.

So there you have it – five simple rules to live by. In the interest of making the Cyberworld a more pleasant place for everyone, I encourage you to share them widely and freely among your Facebook friends. 99.9% of you won’t have the cojones to do it, but my real friends will. U NO WHO U R. Now check out this picture of V’s Logan Huffman!!!!

I rest my case. Be the change! Don’t be a Tool on Facebook.

… BUT, WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Are you ready to take your Facebook skills to the next level? Of course you are! Here, a bonus set of hints and tips:

HOW NOT TO BE A BORE ON FACEBOOK

  1. Remember that it is YOUR Facebook page, not your children’s. Sure, we all want to know that young Amelie enjoyed her first Tai Kwan Do class or that superstar Rhys’s eighth grade debate team took out the regional title. But every now and then… how are YOU doing? What are YOU up to?
  2. Along the same lines, if your last three status updates were about your pet – or worse, you have a separate Facebook account for your pet… sorry, but DAMN.
  3. No one cares about the high score you just got on whatever the latest Facebook game/timesuck is. NO ONE. Nor do we care about the quiz you just aced. Really.
  4. Please, everyone, stop “checking in,” unless you happen to be somewhere really, really cool. If you are hanging out atop the Eiffel Tower, chilling courtside at the Celtics’ game, awaiting the opening curtain at the Sydney Opera House, skiing with royalty at Klosters, or having drinks with Joss Whedon at the Chateau Marmont? That’s interesting! If you’re on the couch, at the supermarket, stuck in traffic on the Washington, D.C. Beltway, or on the toilet… that’s not interesting.
  5. AND STOP POSTING PICTURES AND/OR DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF EVERY MEAL YOU EAT, PEOPLE!!! (Unless it’s REALLY delicious and you can hook us up with a recipe or two.)

– Kate Nagy (with thanks to Rachel Hyland)

FURTHER READING

  • In Friendship False – how many “friends” can a fake person gain on Facebook in just 24 hours?

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