My seven Facebook rules

A lot has been written and said about the Facebook phenomenon. Love it or hate it, it’s here for a while yet, and the concept that it has created in society will last even longer.
Whether you are a fan, a casual user or one of the many who reject Facebook for various reasons it is still unavoidable. Every website has a ‘like’ button (test mine out!) Every company has a page, or an ad or a marketing strategy that takes advantage of the power of the social network.
Personally, I think Facebook is like any other tool. It will be what you make it. It can be a power for good or a power for ill. It can be fun and frivolous or it can be disturbing and depressing.
The main thing is to use it right, or not use it at all. So with that in mind I thought I would deliver my own personal top 7 tips for making the most of Facebook. These are ideas that are more or less built on my model of the world, and I know that yours may be distinctly different, but bear with me and maybe some of what I suggest may ring true.

7 Facebook tips

  1. Understand the tool.
    The biggest problem with Facebook is that most people forget how huge and powerful it really is. It’s a network, and because of that the reach of a single comment or statement on your own page can ripple across hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.
    If you have just 10 friends on Facebook and they each have 10 friends, then if just each one of your friends shares your comment to their friends, 100 people will potentially have seen it. If those share it, it could reach 1,000, then 10,000 and 100,0000, and so on. Few people just have 10 friends on Facebook. So when you post, imagine you are on the stage at Wembley stadium – possibly being televised! Then you will see how essential it is to…
  2. Have a policy
    With this much impact from everything that you do – every comment, every like, every move in a game, every photo – you need to have it clear in your mind what you will and won’t do. You need to have a policy – just like a company might do – that says what you are prepared to share and with whom. Facebook has lots of controls for limiting what others see, but you may do well to imagine that everybody who could see it, can and will. Your enemies will use it. Past lovers will track you down and gloat or envy. Your children will laugh at you. Your employer will sack you. Equally if your friend runs a business and asks you to share it, just by doing that you may be getting him a thousand customers!
    You don’t have to write your policy down, though it may help, but you do need to be absolutely clear what it is. Stick to it. And review it from time to time. But don’t forget to…
  3. Enjoy life
    Take in the beauty of everything you see on Facebook. I think that is the richness of it. The humanity and the humour, the pain and the pity, the love and the laughter. Recognise the richness of it and contribute to that. Ultimately take from it and look at the real world with new eyes. But remember that it’s the real world that counts! The people posting on there are real people so you should always try to…
  4. Dissociate
    When you see a post on Facebook from a friend or a stranger, you are getting a window into their world, but it is a very small window. Like text messages, the short statements on a Facebook page can be packed with meaning for the reader that the sender never intended. It’s not about you. It’s about them! So if someone says something like “I’ve just had enough!” Don’t allow yourself to assume that they have had enough of you! They have 300 friends – maybe they’ve had enough of one of them. Maybe they’ve had enough of life in general and are looking for loving support and sympathy from you and those 300 friends. Or maybe they just don’t want any more pasta. So imagine that you are them. With this in mind, before you post anything yourself…
  5. Associate
    Before you post a status, make a comment or share a link, try it on from the point of view of some of your ‘friends’. If you share a picture from one of those joke pages remember to think about whether your mum would laugh as well as your best friend. Would your employer see the joke (a sense of humour is something I have found particularly lacking in the business world). Remember, as I said before, the number of people seeing this can be astronomical – literally – you cant associate into every reader, but you can select some types and just imagine what their reaction may be. A good rule of thumb then would be…
  6. Do as you would be done by
    • remember birthdays
    • praise and celebrate others
    • laugh with people, not at them
    • don’t bad-mouth (it makes you look bad)
    • post with kindness
    • parade your gratitude and love
    • if in doubt, don’t
    • and from time to time…
  7. Manage your friend list
    Think carefully about adding someone to your list. Whoever you add, they are likely to remain in your online life for a very long time. I think it causes less pain to ‘forget’ to add someone, than to have to delete them later. There are lots of reasons you can give if they persist – ‘I don’t want too many on my list’, ‘I don’t want people seeing the kinds of things we talk about’,’our friendship is more “real world” don’t you think?’
    By the same token we all need to do a cull from time to time. But don’t think of it as a punishment for those who have hurt you. Don’t think of it as redundant friendships. Remember, anybody you remove can still potentially see what you say and do – through their own friends or family. There’s always a link. So cull for your mental and emotional well-being only. Personally the only people I remove from my list, once I have elected to put them on there, are the energy drainers. If you find that a person is posting a lot of negative comments, whether about themselves, about others or about life in general. You may want to gently remove them from your list. These are the kinds of posts that can shadow your view of the world, drain your energy and distort your life. But even for these people, try to be kind with it. They are going through pain in or life, because that is what they are expressing. Try not to add to it. Try adding comments first that uplift them or challenge them to think better thoughts. Or ignore them if you think deleting them would hurt them too much.

So there it is. This is my policy. Does it hold water? Does it ring true? Am I being too simplistic or too confusing? What’s your policy? Why not add a comment below.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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