Facebook Etiquette with a Friend

I'm spurred to write on this topic because it can be a problem. I have a friend, first and foremost a friend in real life, one who is also a friend on Facebook. I say I don't like Facebook much, but at times go on it to post my own blogs and then I start meandering.

I used to be mildly judgmental, something I saw as irritability but really is more of an annoyed and perhaps even righteous disapproval of some posts of some people I am on friend lists of and vice versa. Why did one extended family post long and chatty conversations when they could talk amongst themselves in real life and in real time instead? That was one. Why did one couple constantly post romantic pictures for two.

So I don't know who the culprit is, but I suspect there is more than one. And also here is a venue that can bring out the adolescent and childish parts of many well beyond the jealousies of childhood. One friend is sad when she sees postings of children because she doesn't have any. And another is upset because her friend likes Hillary and not Bernie. But right now I'm thinking about me since it's been the second time in a real friendship that there have been hard feelings and a less than mature response, to a Facebook posting.

When I talk about etiquette, it is because I am realizing that there needs to be some sort of structure for these things, meanderings as I have called them. If it's late at night, for one, it may be a bad time to go surfing through Facebook to see what's up with friends. And if it's late at night it may be a bad time to respond with anything controversial, either in comment form on Facebook, or email form either. The feelings may be raw; they may include jealousy, irritation, even feelings of temporary intimacy with people because of the timing of a particular communication.

I'm suggesting that Facebook for adults can be a regressive phenomenon. Obviously this is not true for everyone, and some people seem to have real communities where they discuss written material or share cat and baby notices within a certain grouping. Some people are mostly political but have a following of people who respond and are interested. So it can be a lively and social (!) formula for staying in contact or finding new friends, often in the form of people lost over the years.

I know some people who are apparently firm in their distaste for what they see as the often petty and often overly personal postings of people. They are not intrigued and also don't want to be exposed in personal ways. It doesn't seem to interest them. At a certain point I thought I was among them in sentiment. But I have fallen down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and have to get my bearings.

I don't like hearing about the important developments in the lives of good friends or relatives first on Facebook. And I do think there is a place for not going through the chains of social media first thing. But I also don't like the reverberations that can be provoked.

I don't like feeling like a little girl or one in middle school, when feelings of being left out can be so easily triggered. And then there is the fact that I am theoretically able to disembark from the whole deal. I can cancel my account, or change certain statuses of friendships, that in quotes, of people with whom I have no contact except for the voyeuristic experience of knowing what they are up to, making it more of a gossip column than social interaction.

I feel a bit like it's New Years and time to make some resolutions, even though I know they don't usually work. Maybe it's just time for me to rethink my involvement, and to think about the etiquette I want to use, rather than one that should be applied to others.

Don't get me wrong. I like some of the recipes and love some of the quotes I see there that can be inspiring. I even get some of my political and human-interest news there. The moral of the story may be for me that there are some people in the world too important for me to have social media substitute for real time talking and sharing.

I hope some "friends" enjoy some of my own postings, but that too can feel like a shot in the dark, when there are few or no responses on Facebook itself. So then, it seems that some of the etiquette has to be an effort to control my own impulsive responding, internally and not, and certainly to wait till morning before getting miffed at someone and putting it in writing.

Friendship is a process, like any real connection, that hopefully goes way deeper than the halls and reverberations of Facebook. I need to think of what it would be like for me to engage either more infrequently or not at all, though I like sharing my own posts and don't know if that is a good enough reason to stay involved. Aside from the fact that Facebook reminds me of birthdays I might otherwise forget: but that's just then making believe I remember.

I have to say I like the clarity of those who decline involvement, or just choose to have a professional page on which they post news and views that can help inform and attract business. It seems cleaner somehow.

Meanwhile, I don't want Facebook to be involved in my close relationships, as if it were all a triangle. I may get upset at friends when I'm really upset with the timing and context of personal disclosure.

It turns out there is a lot to consider, especially for those of us still sensitive after all these years. Humbling though not altogether surprising.