Given that the average user spends upwards of 15 hours on Facebook per month, and that negative reinforcement doesn’t really work, what if we tried to post more good stuff on Facebook, instead of less bad stuff? I figured somebody would have taken this route already, so I searched for “things to post on Facebook” or “top 10 things to post on Facebook” and Google immediately inserted “top 10 things not to post…” etc. Apparently everyone wants to know what not to post, but is there a guide to what one should? No? Well, allow me:
Note: the examples are obviously going to be a bit skewed as they relate to my (vegan-centric) life and my friends, but they are real examples. Extrapolate and come up with your own ideas!
1) Positive affirmations about your life: did a friend do a favor for you? Are you excited about moving into a new home? Post it! Keeping things positive not only reinforces your good mood, but effects others. If someone thinks you’re bragging, they probably just wish they were as genuinely happy. Example:
I’ve had two cups of yogi tea today, both with similar messages: Feel good, be good, and do good AND Feel great, act great, and approve of yourself. The message is clear.
2) Causes you care about, with a little tact. Fact: a lot of people think I’m a preachy, militant vegan, and while I disagree, as a fellow user of Facebook I can see where they get the idea. It’s so easy to go overboard from “hey, check this out” to “HEY, CHECK THIS OUT, NOW!” Even as one who fully believes in the rightness of a multitude of progressive causes, there’s a better and worse way to promote them. The better way can lead to people reading, liking, sharing, and messaging you to learn more; the worse way can lead to them posting crazy shit on their wall about how much they “hate” the cause. Lead by example:
As some of you already know, I am particularly fond of donkeys (not sure why) so this really pulls at my heart strings. Please take a moment to sign the petition. Thank you so much!
Join my cause: Help us stop the Villanueva (Spain) horror /Aiutateci fermare l’orrore di Villanueva/Spagna
3) Sincere reminders of your friends’ awesomeness: It’s one thing to shower everyone with “i luv u!!!” and pokes, but it’s another to thank someone, publicly, for doing something nice. It makes them feel good, but more over, it shows you have the confidence, and self-love, to thank someone else, to be grateful, and to be compassionate. This is also about not taking life, and your friends, for granted. If the post makes the receiver feel weird (or embarrassed!) then they need to learn how to take a compliment. Expressing your joy of someone else’s existence is enriching for you, them, and the mutual friends you two may have. Example:
These people are awesome!! Thanks for traveling and rocking animal costumes to speak up for animals. :) — with Joseph Trubey and 2 others.
4) Events by you, with a focus on fun: Do you get overwhelmed by event invites like I do? I have about 20 right now that are “pending” – I haven’t bothered to click yes or no because I just don’t care. But whenever I get an event invite from a friend, with a title of something like “Board game night!!!” or “Let’s do something awesome!” – I’m there. If a friend takes time out of their life to plan something fun, and invites their friends, what could be better? We get bombarded with shows, art exhibits, and retreats – not that there’s anything inherently wrong with those – but after awhile you start to go numb. Create an event that showcases what you like: an ultimate frisbee game, kickball, board games, or even just hanging at a coffee shop. We all use Facebook to plan our lives anyway, so why not plan something that helps foster our friendship? Here’s an example of an invite:
I’m coming to town, and I’ve got a penchant for adventure. I haven’t booked my flight yet, but I’m planning on visiting within the last couple weeks of May. A couple years ago, several of us went to The Beach water park and had an awesome time. I’d love to do something like that again. The Beach is closing this summer, but I’d love to run around and get rowdy at somewhere like King’s Island or Holiday World.
5) Make Facebook a positive extension of the real world, not a replacement: Despite all the bullshit that occurs on that site, Facebook can serve a legitimate purpose. It can connect us, empower us to act by exposing us to things we might not hear about, and gives us data to use in the real world. The non-profits that use Facebook find it invaluable, as do I to keep up with former class mates, friends, and even some family. These are good things, but they shouldn’t replace real life. Research Sherry Turkle calls this “life-mix,” and it’s a strange, new way of living in the 21st century.
How does one apply this? Well, that’s up to you (“an exercise left to the reader” as my old math books used to say). Post things on Facebook that you want your circles (or entire friend group) to see, and engage with you about in the real world. A friend of mine is particularly fond of posting random facts about his daily goings-on on Facebook, and when I see him, I’ll strike up a conversation about those. He’ll laugh, but engage me right back. This brings us closer, even though the catalyst was a virtual world, a “fake” interaction online. Use Facebook, like the examples above, to coordinate, plan, and anticipate future events with you friends, but don’t rely on it for the sole interaction.
We choose these endless techno gadgets – Facebook, Twitter, smartphones – to make our lives easier, right? Or, because they’re fun. The moment they cause stress and anxiety, the only people winning are the advertisers (unless you have AdBlock!). Social networks and all their facets are great, and let’s use them for good by strengthening relationships, empowering individuals, and planning the next “big thing” in our lives.
This post was inspired by an article I saw linked from CNN a couple months ago, namely “10 tacky things to avoid posting on Facebook.“
Photo: Scott Beale