The interwebs can be an awkward place. It used to be the on the internet, no one knew you were a dog, but now someone can, within minutes, not only find out what breed of dog you are but what brand of collar you wear and also your credit score. Some would say this freedom liberates us from the stifling social norms that have inhibited human expression for centuries.
Those people are rude.
The rest of us live in a constant state of trepidation about how to transfer real-word manners into the realm of Facebook, eHarmony and Youtube videos of chimpanzees riding Segways.
The Internet Etiquetteist can help.
Dear Internet Etiquetteist,
I love my fiancée. A lot. I enjoy posting on her Facebook wall, her LinkedIn profile, and her MySpace page to this effect. That said, I recently walked into a Borders to grab a latte with some friends when I was bombarded with opinions that my posts were annoying and inappropriate. I think that my posts are cute and should be celebrated, not harassed! What do you think?
PDA in the Modern Age
Dear PDA in the Modern Age,
First off, do you really like Borders? Do you think it offers a good selection of books at a location convenient to your place of residence? Are you a fan of the scones at their in-store cafe? If so, you should probably starting eating every meal there because since the American public decided to only purchase books that run out of batteries, Borders has been drowning in red ink.
Question: Would you still go to Boarders if it was a big, nearly empty building that only sold a small selection of coffee and pastries?
Your issue has less to do with social media than it does with your relationship as a whole. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with public demonstrations of affection (weddings, the last scene of every romantic comedy ever, hearts carved into trees stumps near Makeout Point, etc.), making them on a constant basis in a public forum like Facebook may seem excessive to outside parties with access to that forum.
When you post, “I wuv you sweetums so much much much” on your girlfriend’s Facebook wall you aren’t just saying it to her, you’re also saying it to every single one of both of your friends. If your goal was nothing more than a simple declaration of love, there are more intimate and meaningful ways to do it.
I know face-to-face human interaction is so September 10th, but you might want to give it a shot. The worst that can happen is that you catch hepatitis but, conversely, the best that can happen is the thing right before catching hepatitis…if you catch my drift.
Sex. My drift is sex.
But, more likely, you and your ladyfriend are separated by some distance and are forced to conduct most of your interactions online. Under these conditions, your ever-so-romantic wall postings have a pretty obvious subtext–to which your friends are reacting negatively.
Posting about your relationship so publicly is functioning as a way to keep prospective suitors away from your woman. If your girlfriend starts flirting with a guy and he tracks her down on Facebook, he’s going to see all of the sappy bullshit you posted on her wall and hopefully back off.
If you do this all the time, one of your notes will be near the top of her wall all the time. It reeks of desperation, no wonder that your friends hate it.
If you don’t trust her to not cheat without your constant reminders you should do the mature thing and hire a private investigator to follow her around. You can easily afford it if you stop buying all your coffee at Borders. It’s overpriced, to make up for them not selling any more books. Most AA meetings have both free coffee and lots of very friendly people willing to take a legitimate interest in all of your insecurity-based problems.
Question: How many years are we away from developing the technology would allow the delivery of pre-made tuna sandwiches through a Kindle?
On the other hand, if you’re posting these messages primarily as a means of bragging about what attractive/intelligent/non-fictional significant other you’ve bagged, there’s a much more acceptable way of doing it.
While the internet is just one gigantic Panopticon, there’s still a bit of discomfort in getting too much of a window into someone’s life online–as anyone who is Facebook friends with an angsty teen can attest.
They key to making your bragging more acceptable is in the phrasing. People are more willing to passively accept whatever you put on Facebook if you make it seem like a pointless record of whatever you’re doing.
Instead of posting an update that says, “Stacey Notmadeup is my soul mate for evr & evr,” say, “Can’t wait to see Stacey Notmadeup when I go back to Generic Hometown this Christmas” or, “Just finished Skyping with Stacey Notmadeup.”
That way people will merely think that you’re so self-involved you think every single thing you do is worthy of being put in the public record for the rest of recorded history. This, for some reason, is better than being thought a braggart.
Actually, on second thought, just go back to that Borders and loudly say, “No, I love you more” over and over again into you get kicked out or they declare bankruptcy.
Whichever comes first. Yeah, that’s a much better plan.
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