Thursday, September 4

Meredith Talks About Social Media

I am a very popular person.

I mean, come on. I have like, 512 friends.

Despite the fact that the average maximum number of people humans can actually maintain meaningful relationships with is about one hundred (and if you're me, more like five), I am most definitely personally connected with all of those people and we share a strong, unifying bond.

That bond is, of course, the all-mighty Facebook.

My mom has been bugging me - Wait. I mean...

I've been thinking about doing this for a while, and I have finally given in.

Meredith Talks About Social Media - Part One

Since Facebook is far and away the most popular social media site worldwide, we'll start there, shall we?

For my safety, I'm going to insert a quick disclaimer here: Whatever you may read from this point on is 1) written from the viewpoint of a teenager and 2) is my personal opinion. Admittedly, my opinion may just happen to be the best, but that's just my opinion (and it's the best).

My hope for these posts is that maybe - just maybe - one of them will reach people who have blankly stared at their computer screens in confusion, questioning their decision to join the social media world and wondering what in the world they're doing, and that I can educate them and send them back into the big, scary world of social media with confidence anew.

And that hopefully we can have some giggles along the way.

Facebook was initially founded in 2004, and it was essentially used to connect students at various universities. It's grown significantly since then. As you are undoubtedly aware, everyone and their cousin uses Facebook. Pretty much.

Let's walk through what happens when you create a Facebook account.

All you need is an email address.

Supposedly only people over age thirteen can register for Facebook, but some genius eleven-year-old realized one day that there's no way to actually enforce that and told all his stupid little friends, so basically, that's not legitimate and anyone can have Facebook.

Moving on.

1. Profile Picture

After you give away all your personal information, congratulations! You officially have a Facebook account. One of the first things you will want to do is add a profile picture.

Despite the fact that the default profile photo is adorable...

Having a picture of yourself helps people recognize you and distinguish you from other people when viewing your profile, especially if you happen to be joining the ranks of John Smiths on Facebook. (Fun Fact: John Smith is the highest occurring name among Facebook users)

The initial choice of your profile photo is not as important as it may seem. My first profile photo was a horrifying picture of me wearing glasses (I have 20/20 vision). Just pick one and move on to the fun stuff (but then find a stunning photo of yourself to change to later).

2. Adding Friends

The next thing you will do is start finding people you know and sending them friend requests. When you add someone to your friends list, they see the statuses and photos you post, and you see their posts.

"Friending" people is one of those things that doesn't really make sense all the time.

I have several Facebook "friends" who I don't really like, don't really know, or don't really care about.

And that's normal. On Facebook, it is okay to friend that kid you talked to once in kindergarten if you want to.

If you want to only be friends with your family members or close acquaintances, that's okay.

There is no right or wrong with who you friend on Facebook as long as you're comfortable with the people you friend.

3. Posting/Liking & Commenting

The main thing on Facebook is seeing people's statuses. A status can be pretty much anything, and in this case, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

I rarely use Facebook as a way to actually keep people up on what's going on in my life. Generally when I post a status, it's an attempt at being witty, adorable, or charming (and I generally miss the mark on all accounts).

Just a few guidelines about posting statuses.

1. Avoid posting statuses incessantly. Most people have a couple hundred Facebook friends at least, and they already have a lot to wade through on their page. 

2. Be aware of the length of your statuses. They are meant to be fairly short, because few people want to take the time to read a lengthy post in their news feed (Sad, but true). If you find yourself consistently waxing eloquent, consider starting a blog, or simply cut back the length.

3. Don't ever ever ever ever whine/rant/in any way express selfishly negative emotions via Facebook status. If your grandpa dies, that's one thing. If you're complaining about anything and everything, please don't.

4. Think of posting a status as yelling it to a room filled with all the people on your friends list. This is essentially what you're doing when you post something, so use discretion. If what you're thinking about posting could potentially send your grandmother into shock - DON'T.

When you see someone's status or photo, you are given the option to "like" the post, or you can comment on it. Commenting is fairly self-explanatory, as is liking, but I have to let my teenage girl out for a second here.

There is a deeply psychological level to "liking" on Facebook.

Whether or not a guy likes our posts on Facebook is a legitimate factor taken into account when we're overthinking things.

Not liking someone's Facebook posts is essentially the social media equivalent to giving them the silent treatment.

Liking a profile photo has significant meaning.

Girls are terrifying creatures, and we are watching you.

Which sort of leads into...

4. Stalking

Facebook opened up a whole new world for those of us with investigative tendencies. Before Facebook, stalking required binoculars, a camcorder, and a ghillie suit. Now, all you need is determination.

Depending on the privacy settings of your victim, you could be granted access to all their photos, statuses, and personal information (favorite movies, books, quotes, music, etc...)

Whether it be a crush or a mortal enemy, if you want to learn creepy amounts of information about someone while simultaneously viewing their terrible middle school photos, Facebook stalking is the way to go.

'Tis a glorious, developing art.

5. Common Irritations

Since people are involved with Facebook (unless you only got on to play games, in which case, what is wrong with you?) there are occasions where you will find yourself super ticked off. I'm ticked off about eighty percent of the time when I'm on Facebook because I'm impatient and not very gracious. But we're not talking about my character flaws here (If we were, it would be an even longer post than this one). Without further ado, things that generally annoy me on Facebook.

1. Couples. Now before you tell me to just calm down and enjoy watching young love blossom, observe a Facebook couple for a couple weeks (if their relationship lasts that long) and then I'll tell you to just calm down and enjoy throwing up a little in your mouth. I'm very happy that you guys are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO in love. Really. But I don't want to see six gushing posts about the same thing in a row about anything, and your match-made-in-heaven is no exception.

2. Whiner babies. Like I mentioned before, it is not appropriate to whine on Facebook. The worst thing about whiner babies is that they create more whiner babies because they're so annoying. Don't do this. Just please don't.

3. Great debaters. I have a couple of Facebook friends who deliberately post statuses just to start arguments. I've only recently come to realize just how ready most people are to jump into an argument and prove that they're right. I'm sure you're right. But I don't need to see it on Facebook. Once again, consider starting a blog.

Now I conclude.

I'm not generally good at speaking succinctly, and I definitely squeezed a lot into this post. It's unlikely that your brain is feeling spongy enough to absorb everything, so it is fortunate that I (miraculously) managed to come up with a single sentence, a truth to live by.

In all things moderation.

Whether it be number of posts, number of exclamation points (personal pet peeve right there), amount of time spent online, etc., keep it balanced.

Don't worry, you can trust me - I have a blog, don't I?


  1. Philippians 4:8 came to mind as I read your blog post (well done, by the way; your inimitable style is most enjoyable to read). We are to meditate on things that are true, honest, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praiseworthy. The same principle applies to Facebook. (And I'll try to keep my statuses short, to the point, and free from whining.)

  2. Ugh, the couples. ugh, the whining. UGH, the debaters. Yes....this is why I don't have a fb. Hallelujah.