IT’S COMPLICATED: The Do’s and Don’ts of Facebook

By Baaria Chaudhary

My generation is the first generation to grow up with Facebook. To us, innovations like the iPad or the Kindle are nothing new. In our minds, it’s just another way to access technology. Maybe that is the problem. New technology is being invented so quickly these days that we barely have time to catch up before the Next Big Thing. My generation is the experiment to see how technology such as social media is going to impact the future. There are no set restrictions yet, no guidelines on how we should proceed with all this new technology. This can be exceptionally dangerous, especially when it comes to social networking sites like Facebook. Since we aren’t given a set rule of guidelines on how to act on Facebook, we automatically assume that there aren’t any. But this isn’t necessarily true.

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I have to admit I got annoyed when my parents told me to be careful on Facebook. What’s the harm? I’d ask myself but even as I would say it, I would recall incidents in school of Facebook related drama. The problem with Facebook is that it is so much easier to say things to people on Facebook than to say them face to face. We all fall victim to this. Soon, little things will lead to big things, which will lead to even bigger things, and the next thing we know, we’ve invented an entire alter ego for ourselves on Facebook –one that isn’t necessarily grounded in reality. This creates a major problem on Facebook. We can never really tell if a person on Facebook is actually who they say they are. Not knowing whom you are really talking to yet trusting them anyways can lead to problems that can leak into real life. There are so many reported incidents of people being harassed in real life because of Facebook. One such example can be found in Seventeen Magazine’s  [Delete] Digital Drama Campaign. The magazine recently teamed up with ABC to raise awareness for cyberbullying. In one of their spreads, they showed how “friending” a teacher on Facebook could lead to unwanted consequences. This is just one thing that you have to be careful about when going on Facebook. Don’t just accept friend requests just because you know the person or you go to school with them. You should keep your school, work, and social life separate from one another on Facebook, too. If you add someone who isn’t necessarily in your family or social circle, you are beginning to blur the boundary lines.

Not only should you be aware of inconsistency on Facebook, but you should also remember the phrase “think before you speak.” Just because there isn’t any cyberbullying going on towards you doesn’t mean you should be the one to start it. Remember, most schools do have anti-bullying policies that encompass bullying on Facebook. Not everything you say on Facebook will be interpreted the way you want it to. Unless you are able to explain to your closest friends what you actually meant, it is probably a good idea to play it safe. Keep in mind; the easiest way to avoid problems online is to simply click ‘delete.’ There is a false sense of security and confidence that overcomes people while online and because of this anonymity, people believe it’s okay to say hurtful things. I hate drama as much as anyone else and when it comes to Facebook, I have a rule: if its something you wouldn’t say in real life, don’t say it. Words can hurt a lot more than you realize and social media has just made it easier.                                                                                                                   {Source}

Everyone can see what you write on Facebook so be careful of what you write on your friend’s walls and what you message them. Don’t write things on your friends’ walls that you wouldn’t necessarily talk about in public –such as a birthday party that your other friend wasn’t invited to. Seeing your post about how awesome the party was where this friend can see it can cause feeling of regret. Take Tyler Clementi’s suicide for example. If those boys hadn’t posted that video online where everyone can see it, he probably wouldn’t have killed himself. Again, think before you speak.

I’ve always logged off of Facebook whenever I was getting fed up with all the digital drama. Don’t get me wrong: Facebook and other social networking sites can be greattools but when faced with notifications to check, statuses to update, pictures to post, and things to ‘like’ Facebook can easily end up adding to your stress instead of a way to deplete it. Every notification I received in my inbox became an added fifteen minutes to Facebook time and in the end, I just got sick of reading all the pointless comments or stupid updates. The best way to relieve you from social overload is to log off, something many teens forget to do.

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After almost a year on Facebook, I finally deactivated my account. I’ve now been Facebook-free for almost two months. What I’ve learned from Facebook is that while it can be helpful, most people don’t usually use it in that way. We might say we use Facebook to get coupons from our favorite store or to get in contact with family overseas, but this isn’t what we do on Facebook on a daily basis. If you think you can handle Facebook without going overboard, go for it but if you’re someone like me who loves wasting time doing nothing and piling up homework, it might be better to set some guidelines for yourself before you log on. Facebook isn’t going to tell you what you can and can’t do. It’s up to you, the user, to define the happy medium.

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