Last January, I posted 10 tips for those 50 and over who are on Facebook. Facebook for 50 and Over, hit home for many of my friends. But it’s a testament to how fast Facebook is speeding toward its destiny (its destiny of world domination and best YouTube traffic generator) that it was outdated less than a year after I wrote it.
For instance, in Facebook for 50 and Over, I talked about pokes. Are pokes even on Facebook anymore? Well, I did a little poking around (ha ha *snort*) and I discovered that pokes are still with us, but I doubt they are ever used. It’s amazing that they survived Black Death Hell September 2011, when Facebook changes drove hundreds of people to suicidal thoughts and drug therapy. But there they are, hidden under the arrow next to the cogwheel, which is only visible if you’re on the page of the person you want to poke. See? Improvements.
Here are six more tips for the oldster on Facebook:
1. Stop Complaining.
We all agree that Facebook is evil incarnate for a) selling our private information so that advertisers can stalk us in the most cyber-creepy way, b) not bowing to pressure to create a dislike button, c) constantly changing, and d) not giving a rat’s ass how we would run Facebook if we had had the foresight to invent a world-changing social media.
The constant changing, improving and tweaking may indeed drive you bat-shit crazy, but please try to stop being so whiny. Sure, Facebook knows that we 50-plus-ers are going to be its bread and butter well after younger, hipper people find something else. And they are aware that we don’t handle change very well. (People my age didn’t handle it well when their IBM Selectrics were carted off and replaced with those giant computers, either. But they survived.) They are not going to stop changing Facebook. I repeat: They are NOT going to stop making changes to Facebook. Try to keep up.
2. Not to be a grammar nerd, but I’m going to have to say something about spelling and punctuation.
No, you don’t have to be self-conscious about your horrible English. That is, unless you post Michael Savage quotes about illegals who have the nerve to not study the English language and then, yes, you better dust off that Strunk & White. (I wasn’t going to say anything, but some of you are making our Guatemalan lawn workers sound like Edwin Newman.)
Leaving out punctuation, which seems to be a common Facebook thing to do, can cause misunderstanding and also people will hate to read your posts. I’ve sometimes had to read a post three times, once aloud, to figure out what the point is. LOL Krissy are you back if your down this way give us a shout just recovered from sunday night out with ray tomorrow. That's just too much work for what little information I'm getting. A couple of commas and a semicolon wouldn't kill you.
But as long as you are willing to take the risks, don’t worry too, too much about grammar on Facebook. With one exception: Be sure to get your own name right. I keep seeing a friend suggestion for a guy I went to high school with who didn’t capitalize his own first name. Unless you’re a beat poet or an artist living in the Village, if you see that you screwed up your own name, remember: You can fix it. So fix it. Now. Because no one wants to be your friend if they think you were so disinterested that you didn’t even hit the right keys when typing your own name.
3. Be the few, the proud, the 3 percent.
Younger, shallower Facebookers will steadily pelt you with sulky taunts. “Put this on your profile for at least one hour today. 97 percent of you won’t do it, but I think I know which of my friends will.” They don’t really know which of their friends will post it. They’re not even going to check. They’re just saying that. Remember, it’s not like refusing to throw a buck into the hat for a birthday gift for a co-worker or funeral flowers. This is not a moment where you have to think about your image or what people will think of you. It’s more like getting that cheesy junk mail from the FOP with pictures of crippled kids on the front of the envelope, trying to make you feel ashamed to use the complimentary address labels or the nickel taped to a card if you don’t send them $50. You don’t fall for that, so don’t fall for Facebook extortion.
My Facebook friends probably don’t know that I actually am against middle school bullying, cancer and terrorism, and I do support autistic kids, mothers who have lost their children, soldiers and Jesus. I just don’t feel obligated to use my Facebook page to announce it. If you start reposting everything that you’re shamed into reposting, you’ll soon find out that there are a lot more diseases and levels of human misery than you can imagine. You’ll be working overtime just keeping up with Facebook repostings. Set a precedent early by not reposting anything, no matter how much you support it. Be strong. It gets easier.
4. Contain your joy over Battle Blitz, Empires & Allies, and Slots.
In two months, replace the names of the above games with whatever are the hot Facebook games. And then two months after that, replace them again. If I had been writing this last month, I would have used Mafia Wars, Farmville and Bejeweled Blitz.
I’m not saying don’t play these games. Games are fun and purposeful. Ever since A Beautiful Mind, I stopped feeling guilty about games I play. If a brainiac like John Nash can devote his life to the mathematics of gaming, who am I not to play hours of Tetris every day?
Play away! But resist the urge to send all of your friends invitations to join you. We know it’s a blast. We know how you get into it and it’s a cheap, non-alcoholic way to unwind. We know you’ve made lots of friends because of it. But if we wanted to play, we would play. We wouldn’t wait for an invitation.
When I joined Facebook in 2008, I did Pieces of Flair, Bumper Stickers, Hugs, some Christmas ornament thing, and Lil’ Green Patch. I actually experienced some angst over letting my lil’ green patch go to seed. I felt terrible. But it was too much like those Tamagotchi pets my kids had, where I was feeding and cleaning up after things that weren’t real. I was more worried about the squirrels in my lil’ green patch than I was with whatever was eating the avocados on the real tree in my real yard in my real life. Games are great, but they’re not for everyone. Respect that some of us are too busy playing Words with Friends on our phones.
5. Learn and memorize the consequences to letting your freak flag fly.
“Where did all these conservatives come from?” my friend Jim said, marveling at the political opinions of people he thought he knew from our hometown.
If you’re on Facebook you really should show your true colors, but be able to back them up, because sure as shootin’ there is at least one person who will disagree with you. Like writing a break-up letter, when you write a rant on Facebook, let it sit there a while before you hit “Post.”
If you have an extreme viewpoint (and you probably do), keep it on your own page. If you’re a wacky liberal and one of your friends posts something from birthers.org on his own page, let it go. It’s his house. If he comes over to your page with that shit, you are welcome to go all Samuel L. Jackson on him. And vice versa.
6. It counts.
Facebook is now an acceptable method for:
- thank-you notes
- party invitations
- engagement announcements
- engagement break-offs
- telling your husband that you're going to be late for dinner
- finding a Realtor
In other words, doing it on Facebook makes it count now. This isn’t just some toy-of-the-month, people. Facebook is serious stuff. I know two relationships that are the result of Facebook romances, so it can change your life.
So have fun with it, but don’t screw it up. But no pressure.