Online etiquette

Jenny Hewett ponders why her friends are awesome, when they’re not on Facebook

Last word, The Knowledge

Jenny Hewett ponders why her friends are awesome, when they’re not on Facebook.

Having lived in Dubai for close to six years during the launch and rise in popularity of many social media sites, it’s safe to say I’ve made and lost a few friends. Some at my disposal, others of their own accord. Either way you look at it, being brutal about who you associate with online is a completely acceptable part of life here and elsewhere. Quality irrelevant, it’s far easier to form or let friendships fizzle at the click of a button than some mutual exchange of character reprobation over a coffee or drawing swords at Eat & Drink.

But wouldn’t the latter perhaps be more constructive? The truth is that most of us are so unaware of (or couldn’t care less about) the way we are perceived online that some sort of feedback wouldn’t go amiss. I’m mostly referring to one phenomenon in particular. It’s not the people I cut off that irk me, it’s friends I love to death in real life but loathe online that make me say bad things out loud.

My newsfeed is like the Rock Bottom of social media; over-sharers, incessant pessimists, fawning and party-deprived new mums, the selfie-obsessed, travel brags, one-uppers and brand hags mingle at free will, creating carnage, dropping irrelevant comments and creepy photos in their wake.

There’s something about self- expression and how it translates on social media that can turn even your closest, coolest, funniest, most awesome real-life friend into most irritating person on this planet. Hey, I too am guilty of my own social media flaws, but there are definitely some characteristics that I find more exasperating than others.

First of all, there’s the mum who has miraculously morphed into her baby. I forgot what this friend looks like, because the only photos I can see are of her spawn. Everywhere. Akin to this, next up, we have the pregnant friend, who cannot resist the urge to throw in an off-topic comment about her gestation at every turn. I love her, but her status makes me want to stick things in my eyes. Then we have the over-sharer/hypochondriac, who thinks illness is an achievement and Facebook is quite the appropriate platform for airing dirty laundry. I have to shield my eyes. On Facebook, we call this ‘hide’.

On the flip side, there are those acquaintances I would barely call friends that, by my books, can do no wrong when it comes to social media. I throw ‘likes’ with less shame than a slowly de-robing groupie, applauding their insightful newspaper shares and witty, nonsensical statuses. But, is that because I don’t know them enough to judge? Or do they have social media etiquette mastered? I will never know. To my friends, I wouldn’t have you any other way, but your Facebook profile and I are frenemies, for now anyway.

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