A young friend of mine, let’s call her Sarah, “friended” her mum on Facebook. In her enthusiasm, Sarah’s mum proceeded to ‘like’ and comment on all of Sarah’s, and her friends’, posts.

Exasperated, one of Sarah’s friends commented: “Your mother is all over Facebook, WTF!!”

Sarah’s mum, slightly puzzled asked, “What does WTF mean, dear?”.

Sarah, quick off the mark replied, “It means Welcome To Facebook mum”. (Before swiftly unfriending her, no doubt.)

I love this story, but it does highlight the fact that social media can be fraught with danger, especially for new users, and with around five new Facebook profiles being created every second, what better time for a grandmother to deliver a couple of pointers to help preserve your street cred?

Disclaimer – Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to real Facebook posts, is purely factual, and some may even have happened to me.

The dinner party theory

IMHO Facebook should be seen as a place to connect and stay in touch with people we know or have met, to gently share ideas and explore thoughts, to entertain and amuse, much the same as being at a dinner party.

It is a space where we may be interacting with a mixed bag of people, some of whom we may know very well, who may share very similar values and beliefs, and some people we may not know at all, who may come from vastly different backgrounds and have had different experiences to ours.

In keeping with the dinner party theory, we should do our best to be polite and respectful to our fellow guests, whilst being interesting and interested guests ourselves.

Some things to consider that hardly ever go down well at a gorgeous dinner party? Showing too many photographs of our pets, children, holiday, new lover, or garden. One good shot really is quite enough. And showing any photographs of meals we’ve eaten – no matter how delicious.

Long, deathly dull or too detailed stories are guaranteed to relegate us straight to the B list.

A list one rung higher than the one for all the racists, sexists, conspiracy theorists and general know-it-alls – a place from where we’ll be lucky even to crack the nod to the odd children’s school concert. A social fate seemingly worse than death itself.

A lovely soirée is no place to vent negativity, no matter the motivation. Publicising your own private, yet very public, pity party and then sulking until others feel obliged to ask what the problem is, is not going to score you another invite. In Facebook terms, posting short, cryptic updates, with a hint of woe is me is known as ‘vaguebooking’.

We should also never raise our voices at a dinner party. This translates as the overuse of capital letters in our posts or comments, which is seen to be ‘shouty’. Not very cool.

FYI – Acronyms are cool

Once you get the hang of things on social you can start to show how hip, hop, and happening you are by peppering your posts with some cool acronyms. IDK them all, but you will be able to google an extensive list to make sure that you are all that. YW. HTH.

A special mention for LOL

This meaning of this acronym has morphed since the days we signed off notes passed in class, as Lots of Love. Now universally accepted to mean Laugh out Loud, one should avoid posting “Thinking of you, LOL” in response to the news that your friend’s pet has died. While on this subject, that emoji with tears coming out of both eyes isn’t crying, he’s laughing hysterically, so don’t use that one either.

Stalking old partners

Such fun. Checking how they look, and who they ended up with. However, do be very careful not to click a ‘like’, or worse, a ‘love’, while you’re zooming in on a photo of them with their new partner. #awkward.

One final caution

If your relationship status is set to “single” do expect to be inundated with friend requests from some impossibly handsome, greying-at-the-temples widowers who happened to come across your profile, love your smile, and would really like to get to know you better. They invariably have one adorable young child and are stationed in some far-off sandy place, risking life and limb to keep us all safe. They will probably even be wearing camouflage in their profile photograph which is all the proof you need really.


Created for Broad Magazine – November 2107
Featured photograph by Rakesh Mistry RAX Photography