A late adopter’s survival guide to Facebook: Part 2 of 3

This is part 2 in my series of observations about avoiding potential pitfalls in Facebook.

What do your updates say about you?

It’s hard to know who’s watching you, and how your updates could potentially come back to haunt you. If your status updates or photos suggest questionable judgment, it could potentially jeopardize your professional life.

For example, it’s easy to make people wonder if you’re ever sober if every status update talks about going out drinking, and every picture posted looks like it was taken in a bar. That’s not necessarily career-killing–I had a coworker once who seemed to have a hangover every single day and he managed to outlast me at that place–but in these tough times, people lose opportunities over dumber things than that.

Boundaries

I’ve dealt with this before. Odds are, at some point, you’re going to run across old flames. I won’t revisit all of that. The most important thing is to live in the present, and set boundaries.

One of mine found me about 16 months ago. After maybe three days of back-and-forth and being part of her morning routine, I set down some ground rules. That ended the conversation, and she hasn’t contacted me since. Maybe that’s not the perfect ending, but it’s an acceptable one.

Every relationship is different, but it’s not uncommon for current spouses/significant others to be uncomfortable when old flames come into the picture. And depending on how the relationship ended, opening old wounds is a possibility. In my case, it was clear the 1997 she remembered wasn’t or isn’t the same 1997 I remember. Maybe she never knew, or just doesn’t remember anymore, that she messed me up pretty badly.

Ending communication showed she did respect those boundaries. And any reasonable person will. They don’t have to like it. The important thing to remember is that once a relationship is over, and especially once there’s a new relationship in the picture, a different set of rules applies.

And let’s talk about two of those rules. Is it wrong for my wife to not want to have to compete with a predecessor for my attention? No. Is it wrong for me to want to avoid getting hurt again? No.

If they don’t respect those boundaries, un-friend them. Or reject their friend request.

Privacy

It should go without saying, but don’t announce to the world, or even just your 999 closest friends, that the entire family is on vacation and your house is sitting empty. And I shouldn’t know that someone my wife knows received enough money in a lawsuit to buy a house. I shouldn’t know this, but I know that and then some, because she posted the whole story on Facebook.

If you want to talk about how great your vacation is, well, wait until you get back and talk about how great your vacation was. If you come into a windfall, well, those 999 people you barely know probably don’t need to know how much it was or where it came from. Maybe you trust those 999 people, but you don’t know who those 999 people are talking to.

And if a friend of a friend–or someone who just isn’t as good of a friend as you thought–finds out you just came into a lot of money and you just happen to be on vacation right now? You tell me what pops into mind. Maybe that person won’t act on it. But it’s better not to even take the chance. These are tough times, and someone may think they’re more entitled to that windfall than you.

Wasting time

I think Betty White put it best when she said, “[Facebook] sounds like a huge waste of time!” And yes, it can waste as much or as little time as you want it to.

Anymore, I check in every couple of days, usually in the evenings, to see what’s going on. A friend from high school got married last weekend. That’s a big deal, and I’m glad to know about that.

I used to try to set time limits for myself, so I wouldn’t get lost in it. Anymore, it’s usually a few skims, some page scrolls, maybe a couple of minutes to post a response to something, and I’m out.

Some people spend a whole lot more time on it than I do, but it isn’t necessary.

Part 3 of this series will follow tomorrow.

One thought on “A late adopter’s survival guide to Facebook: Part 2 of 3

  • October 21, 2010 at 9:43 am
    Permalink

    Any time we communicate with another human being, there’s a chance for a misunderstanding. Something doesn’t come out just right. Our tongue (or our fingers) don’t communicate clearly what our brain is trying to convey, and someone’s feelings get hurt. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Posting comments about how badly you’ve been treated don’t accomplish anything positive—and mostly make you look petty and immature. Don’t make big issues or snide little remarks on Facebook or any other public place. Either deal with it privately, or, better yet, just let it go.

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