Dear Savvy Sister: Is there a Facebook Etiquette for Dummies book?

Reminder: the questions asked in this occasional column are posed by actual people. 

Dear Savvy Sister,

Since I joined Facebook a few years ago, my life hasn’t been the same. In one place I can: envy other people’s vacations; be glad other people’s children aren’t mine; spy; and feel pretty darn good about myself after reading some status updates.

Sometimes I just want to say “Get a freakin life!” Those people – the ones who make me say that – I would love to delete, but can’t because they are family or I am addicted to watching their train wreck – in which case I pop a bag of corn, grab a glass and check the feed constantly.

But what about those you can’t delete? Case in point: there is someone in my feed who “likes” pictures from a third party and they show up in my feed. This third party is Playboy. 

It isn’t that I am against Playboy. It’s just I don’t want to see it in my feed. Also, this person is married and I find it disrespectful to the spouse, who is also my Facebook friend. These people are family – in-laws, to be specific. I like them, a lot. However, I am not terribly close with them. My dilemma is: Do I say something or do I let it go? Additionally, this person is friends with younger family members…granted, not my kids, but kids nonetheless. I just find it blatantly disrespectful to the spouse. If this person wants to look at this, that is his business. I just don’t want to see it…or the body I wish I could airbrush myself into.


Dear PlayBlob,

The good news is that I can help you solve your dilemma in about 30 seconds. The bad news is that you have raised some underlying issues, and I feel the need – NAY, THE OBLIGATION! – to address them. So pour that glass of vino you mentioned and swallow a sip of patience.

Yes, Facebook has been life-altering, for better and for worse. Through Facebook I have reconnected with long lost friends, found an excellent cole slaw recipe, and nearly gotten myself fired for inappropriate ramblings. Also, because I am constantly in search of more readers for my blog, I am a Facebook whore. I’ll hook up with anyone. ANY. ONE. Except Ann Coulter, who hasn’t asked. As I result of my open-page policy, I know that a woman I’ve never met in California had some diarrhea last week, and a guy I knew in college likes to fly fish.

But all this interacting brings up problems, the most annoying one being that giant sucking sound that is Mark Zuckerberg hoovering up your spare time. He’s even hoovering up time you don’t have. I do not want someone to calculate how many minutes per day I spend perusing status reports when I could be gazing at my navel, which at least offers the benefit of some quiet meditation.

Another issue is the inevitable temptation to compare your life unfavorably to that of others. CAN’T WAIT FOR THE WEEKEND TO SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH MY KIDDOS! writes one mom. Except that she writes KIDDO’S, which doubles my disdain for people who actually enjoy spending long hours with their children. My status reports are more like: WHY, OH WHY, DOES MY 6-YEAR-OLD DANCE LIKE A STRIPPER? and IF MY DOG STARTS EATING HER OWN SHIT, I WILL HAVE TO PUT HER DOWN. See, those sorts of comments make other people think they’re not as cray-cray as, for example, me, and that’s a tremendous gift. You’re welcome.

The final problem, as you’ve discovered, is that you learn way too much about people with whom you thought you were sympatico. That’s especially true during political seasons, when everyone is “liking” the pages of their candidates and causes, and I want to be all, WHAT? I AM SO SORRY I BOUGHT YOU THAT DRINK. But I’m not, because I know that status updates and “likes” often represents just a sliver of a person’s true self. By the way, did you know Rush Limbaugh’s page has over a million “likes?” By comparison, I have 179. SOOOOOO NOT FAIR, and a poor indication of my future writing success. I hope.

You have to take Facebook for what it represents to most users – a fun, occasionally snarky way for people to interact. Of course it’s disrespectful for a married man to get all publicly slobbery over airbrushed young women. If I were his wife, I’d get him a magazine subscription and make him unlike the Playboy page. But I’m not his wife, and neither are you. (Whew! We dodged that bullet!) So it’s what my mother would call a N.O.P., or Not Our Problem. You don’t need to judge him, just like I don’t judge the stupid-ass ancient denture-smacking adorable elderly man in town with the Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing its idiot anti-Obama bumper sticker. Okay, maybe I judge a tiny bit. But it’s not like I let the air out of his tires!

My point is that some people lay themselves out for their friends and friends of friends to view and absorb, and you, my little PlayBlob, must be not be disrespectful of that. Just roll your eyes and giggle, and say to your wine glass, “Oh, for the love of Chardonnay! I can’t believe Estelle is reading the 50 Shades series again.”

Having said that, I can understand why you would want to “hide” photos of naked women from your feed. If my son knew he could see photos of boobs, like, all the time, he would steal my iPhone and just live in Target for the rest of his life. So here’s your easy solution: you can “hide” your in-law and he’ll never know it. Go to one of his posts, and scroll your mouse to the upper right corner until you see a little arrow. Click on it, and you’ll see options that include the word “hide.” Click on that. Then you’ll further see more options to hide status updates from this person. You can choose to only see important updates, or to see none of his updates. How cool is that? But you’ll still be friends, and in a pinch you can go to his page to see what he’s been up to, or to see whether he’s favoring blonds or brunettes these days.

By the way, in the course of my research, I did check out the Playboy Facebook page, and discovered it’s not all girlie photos. In fact, it introduced me to this Pete Rose quote, which absolutely made my day: “I’ve got young kids and if they’re going to do one of the following – be an alcoholic, beat their spouse, or gamble – I hope they’d gamble.”  BWAHAHAHAHAHA! 

Whew. Wiping away tears from that one. Gawd, I love Facebook.


the Savvy Sister


2 responses to Dear Savvy Sister: Is there a Facebook Etiquette for Dummies book?

  1. Terri Chastain says:

    YES!!!! I could never figure out Facebook until I learned how to manage the feed. Now, my life is complete. I can read great posts, like Connie’ May’s and yours and ignore everyone else. What would I do without the two of you and Comedy Central?

    “Bless you for saving lives by helping others learn the beauty of hiding feeds.”

    • tricia says:

      Terri, I am happy to be of service. Thanks for including me in your IN pile. xoxo

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