Friday, August 21, 2009

Facebook Etiquette

Continuing in my series on "Making The World A Better Place By Attempting To Create Rules For Everything," today's topic is Facebook Etiquette.

Facebook has opened up a mannerly can of worms for those of us who attempt to behave with utmost correct politeness at all times. None of the well-known etiquette mavens, as far as I know, have come up with a specific code of conduct for Facebook, and I think I understand why. There are different ways to view Facebook, and depending on how you view Facebook, the polite standard of behavior will change.

1. Facebook as a "neighborhood." In this scenario, Facebook is like a neighborhood street, and people's walls are like their homes. Anything you wish to post on your wall, therefore, is welcome and appropriate, and it is rude to ask people not to post those things, even things that may be offensive to you.

Problem: In a real home, what's in your house stays in your house. On Facebook, what's posted to your wall also gets posted to all of your friends' news feeds, so that when they call up their home page, "How Libertarians Will Kill Us All And Eat Our Young" is there whether they agree or not. However, you can block friends from your news feed, or de-friend them if the offense if strong enough.

Problem: It would be considered rude in the extreme to comment on things in people's actual homes in anything but the nicest way. If, for instance, I have a picture of myself with President Obama hung in my home, the only polite thing to say, even if you believe Obama is taking this country down in a socialism-fueled ball of flames, is "How nice for you!" On Facebook, however, people are SUPPOSED to comment on what you post. It's the whole point. So posting a picture of yourself with religious or political connotations is going to invite comment, which will lead to possibly heated discussion of a socially forbidden topic, which isn't polite.

2. Facebook is a big party, and what takes place on Facebook are just the kind of conversations that happen at the kind of big party where a lot of different types of people are gathered together.

Problem: Many. There are many, many ways to offend people in conversation, and all of them seem to exist on Facebook. There is misinterpretation, hot-button topics, carrying on conversations while excluding someone, discussing events in front of people who weren't's endless, really. If people view their walls as parties they themselves are hosting, then some sort of control can be attempted, but in my opinion it comes off as rude to attempt to tell people what they can and can't post. I've deleted posts on occasion when I felt they were inappropriate for my wall, but I've always felt badly about it, like I kicked a friend out of a party for cussing too loudly.

3. Facebook is a networking opportunity. Friend requests should be freely accepted unless there is a compelling reason not to, like an active restraining order.

Problem: Facebook is primarily social. We all have the right to decide who will be allowed to see our Facebook page. Some people genuinely don't care, which is fine, but the friction happens when someone who doesn't care attempts to friend someone who does. Some people have strict policies: not friending current students, supervisors, co-workers, sharks, or in-laws. That is absolutely their right; it can get exhausting trying to censor yourself so that everything you post is acceptable to everyone on your friend list.

I don't know the answer. I actually am not in favor for a formal codification of Facebook rules, because I think it's something that everyone uses differently.

Conclusion: Everyone needs to settle down. It's supposed to be fun! Unless you don't use it for fun! But still settle down!

Please, it's exhausting trying to fix all of you people.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Petty Compatibility Quiz

Feel free to take this quiz with your husband, partner, girlfriend/boyfriend, roommate, friend, or cat. Each of you should take the quiz, then compare answers.

1. When purchasing tuna fish,
a. Only solid white Albacore tuna in spring water is acceptable.
b. Chunk white or light is fine, as long as it's my preferred brand.
c. Whatever's on sale is what you're getting.
d. You'll get cat food and be grateful.

2. Mayonnaise
a. Is an essential condiment.
b. And salad dressing are really the same thing.
c. Must be "real" mayonnaise to make it on my sandwich.
d. Is an excellent lubricant for stuck fishing reels.

3. The television remote control
a. Should be kept in an easily located central spot.
b. Should be by my right hand at all times.
c. Should be by your right hand at all times.
d. Lives in the fold of my belly. I'll forget this, so you need to remind me.

4. Pets
a. Are wonderful additions to any home.
b. Aren't something I want, but I could live with a fish or a bird.
c. Are demons from hell sent to destroy my brand-new carpet.
d. Can fight the children for whatever is left in the "tuna" can.

5. Fabric softener
a. Makes for fresh, cozy clothes that carry a touch of home with me wherever I go.
b. Is a luxury, but as long as we're doing all right we can have it.
c. Is more of a "woman" thing.
d. Renders men sterile.

6. Grilling outdoors
a. Is a fun activity for couples to do.
b. Is the way men like to cook.
c. Is a great way to cook in the summertime.
d. Is done in an aluminum trash can stolen from the neighbors.

7. My idea of a fun evening is
a. Going out to a nice restaurant, followed by a movie.
b. Snuggling together on the couch to watch TV.
c. Reading a book alone.
d. Shooting rats at the dump with the folks.

8. To keep fit, I
a. Hike.
b. Walk.
c. Swim.
d. Smoke.

9. Hanging curtains is
a. The most important thing we will ever do.
b. Important, but there are other things to be done first.
c. Not that important, I'll get around to it.
d. Something I will never, ever do. Ever. So just give up.

10. The toilet is clean if
a. It smells nice and has clear, clean water.
b. It smells like chemicals and has blue water.
c. I can get near it without passing out.
d. I can see it through the tears streaming down my face.

To score: Give yourself 1 point for every A, 2 points for every B, 4 points for every C, and 8 points for every D. Add up your score. Do you notice anything significant about the number? You shouldn't, it's meaningless. Laugh merrily and set fire to the paper containing your score. Or just throw it away. Whatever.

Instead of scoring, compare answers with your partner. Hopefully, you guys are pretty close, but you will find those areas of incompatibility. Fortunately, all of these problems can be solved with frank, open communication and Xanax. Ha! But seriously, if each partner compromises a bit, these petty little problems will have no power over you.

You notice I put nothing on the quiz about dirty clothes, particularly socks and underwear, that are dropped in random locations throughout the house and left there, presumably to grow new socks and underwear for the sockless, naked denizens of our backyard. Some things simply can't be fixed by a quiz.

I'm no Cosmo.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Deb's Top 10

The Top 10 Reasons It's A Good Thing School Is Starting Again:

10. New TV Shows: Now, we get to see all of the shows about which we will be saying, "Can you believe they tried to make a show out of that?" next year.

9. Returning TV Shows: We get to catch up with our returning favorites, like Project Runway, Lost, Law & Order: SVU, Top Chef...that's all I can think of. How is it I watch so much television but follow so few shows? (Answer: reruns of GOOD television.)

8. The Holidays: You may think it's too early to get into the "Holiday Spirit," but you would be wrong. I had my first anxiety dream about Thanksgiving last night. And, for your information, there are only 130 shopping days until Christmas! My feet are starting to sweat...

7. Awareness: Since school is starting again, I will be watching the news every day. I do not follow the news during the summer, save occasionally watching The Daily Show, the Colbert Report, and The Soup. I'm not completely irresponsible. However, it occurred to Sven and I the other night that we had no idea whether or not the storm we were watching head for our house was dangerous or not, and I knew our time of blissful ignorance was coming to an end.

6. I Can't Sleep Anyway: Fall, along with spring and winter, is my "allergy time." I have "seasonal allergies," which often mutate into "crippling sinus infections" and/or "pneumonia." Summer is the only time of year that is relatively allergy-free for me. My dripping nose and itchy eyes tell me it's time for school...and I'm up at 5:50 writing a blog post.

5. New Friends: Each fall brings in a crop of new teachers, which means new opportunities to make awkward conversation in an attempt to find someone with whom I get along. As a documented introvert, meeting new people is difficult for me. By the end of the year, though, I have almost always made new friends, just in time for them to leave and go to a new school.

4. Old Friends: Fortunately, my "team" is intact this year. (My team consists of music, art, P.E., and computer class.) We aren't getting any new people on our team! And I like everyone we had last year! A lot! Yay, Deb! (And, Art Teacher Lindsey, you need to get better very soon.)

3. Optimism: There is something about the start of the year that makes me forget the cynicism and despair which is my usual oeuvre. I see the kids who were awful last year and think, "They could have a really good year this year!" I have all kinds of ideas for innovative new lessons. I have a new schedule. Things are looking good, baby.

2. Gratuitous use of "baby" in general conversation.

1. Back Into the Social Scene: Dexy and Princess can come into their own as the social butterflies they are becoming. Princess, of course, has Tyler, her mustachioed, burly, cologne-scented toddler boyfriend. Dexy has become the social leader of the Toddler Room, due to his skills in a completely unknown (to me) arena:

That boy can dance.

Every day when I pick him up, he is standing in the center of a circle of his awed classmates, shaking what I gave him. He jumps, he spins, he cocks a sassy eyebrow. He sees me at the window, waves, and keeps dancing until the surrounding circle notices me and crowds around to drool on my feet.

It's going to be a great year.