Facebook is a wonderful tool for communication. It allows you to keep in touch with people whom otherwise you would have lost contact completely. It’s great to have news from our old friends and to see pictures from relatives who live far from us.
However Facebook may also be very dangerous. It may cause you to waste your time and distract you from tasks that should have much higher priority. If you are not careful, you may also have some very unpleasant experiences on Facebook.
Summarizing my own experience, here are three simple rules to avoid trouble and keep your sanity on Facebook.
Never post anything that may be offensive to someone
When posting on Facebook, you should behave as if you were talking to a public. Imagine that you are on a wedding and someone has invited you to make a toast. Of course you would never say something that may be offensive to someone.
Don’t behave as if it’s your own party, assuming that you are the host and you can say whatever you want. It’s true that you are posting on your own wall, but your posts will appear on the news feeds of your contacts. Did your contacts ask your opinion?
The more contacts you have, the more difficult it will be not to offend someone. Among your friends there may be liberals and conservatives, homosexuals and homophobes, Jews and Muslims. And if you have many such “friends”, most probably you simply don’t know them well enough to be sure if they will be offended or not.
Never talk to strangers
Do you talk to strangers in the street? Probably not. But people on Facebook frequently have discussions with strangers when commenting on the post of a mutual friend. Unfortunately, this kind of conversations may easily become unpleasant.
First of all, when talking to a stranger you may never predict how he/she will react. You may be surprised to discover that this particular person has very radical views about the subject. Worse yet, this stranger may be emotionally unstable and become aggressive.
But you may claim that “friends of friends” are not really strangers, right? Wrong. You have no idea what kind of friend you are talking to. He/she may be just an old acquaintance of your friend, or a co-worker. Be careful.
Never post negative comments or criticisms
If you don’t have something positive to say, it’s better not to say anything. Some people simply don’t know how to take criticisms, even if you make an effort to be polite. And on Facebook this is much worse because your negative comments and criticisms are public.
For most people, when they post something on Facebook, their main motivation is to collect positive feedback. They hope to get as many “likes” as possible, as well as many friends telling them how they are smart or funny.
If you make a negative comment or criticism, you are spoiling everything, and may make your friend very upset. There is a reason Facebook does not have a “dislike” button. People go to social networks in search of support and reinforcement.
In summary, if you want to avoid trouble and keep your sanity on Facebook, you must make an extreme effort to always be the nice guy. As nice as possible. Good luck!