During the first week of school, use Facebook with care.

Science & Nature Essay
Written by Nathan Mattise

The first week of school brings with it many variables in the experiment we call college life. There are new classes. There are new housing arrangements. And there are new people inevitably leading to new quandary in the most important aspect of college – Facebook.

Within the first week of a new semester of classes, you meet roughly 30 to 60 new people (no, there isn’t data to back that statement up. Just go with me here). Of those 30 to 60 people, at least seven to 10 of them will be the over-eager “I need friends,” type and they will preface their friend requests (noun) by mentioning how they are going to friend request (verb) you in person. Another seven to 10 of these people fit into the “too cool for school” genre. These people either don’t have Facebook profiles or choose to possess one that gets updates less than once a semester.

The rest fall into the middle on the Facebook personality bell curve. These people want to genuinely be real, in-person friends with you and may eventually request you on Facebook within a few weeks. Most of us fall into this catergory, yet there seems to be a standard level of confusion among the normal Facebook user. Can anyone definitively say what the etiquette is when determining when and how to friend that cute girl you sat next to in Religion class or the boy who introduced himself to you in the pasta line at the dining hall? Can you post on their wall after? Can you even friend them at all? Does anyone even really analyze these types of actions?

Probably not, but that can’t stop me from trying to figure out a set of standards.

Four Proporsed Facebook Friending Rules

  • If you reached the point of consistent goodbyes, it’s finally OK to friend someone.

Just knowing someone’s name should not be a sufficient enough reason to create the sacred bond that is a Facebook friendship. C’mon, we’re talking about sharing information like “John Doe ended his relationship </3” here. If your interactions with someone have reached a point where each individual is making a conscious effort to say something when departing (whether an embrace is included or not) it’s safe to say there is enough of a base for the request.

  • If you’re being asked for friend details, there’s some alterior motive going on.

Do you and Jill really need to clarify that your friends because you both joined the juggling club? Either someone’s from the “I need friends” end of the Facebook standard deviation or this is the least direct method anyone could ever use to initiate more conversation with someone. Friends don’t let real friends use friend details. Period.

  • If you’re going to make potentially pathetic attempts to generate more of a relationship through Facebook, use the Wall and not the messages.

This is like the difference between showing up at someone’s house uninvited and making an effort to bump into someone at the student center. It’s simply less creepy to approach someone in a public area as opposed to a private one. And for the creeper causing all the problems, he/she will be less likely to receive a really assholish response because the NewsFeed will make the whole affair open for judgement in the court of public opinion.

  • All transactions should be properly handled within 24 hours.

Whether accepting a friendship, responding to a message, confirming a terrible friend detail or rejecting any number of the pointless applications, Facebook should be handled with supreme care. Universities encourage their students to check their e-mails at least once a day and nearly everyone checks their cell phones at least o10 times that much. Why should Facebook be treated any differently? People put way too much stock into what happens on Facebook in the same way they put too much stock into text messages or IMs, yet the Facebook requests can sit for days without any change, so don’t make any prisoners of social networking agonize longer than they have to.

Keep these rules in mind as those syllabi (correct plural?) are being handed out and you’re surveying the room for the girl/guy you want to see out on Friday night. They probably won’t help at all, though if you’re relying on Facebook to facilitate your social life, they can’t hurt.

(Links today via – Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary and Facebook)

Feel free to e-mail Nate to tell him you’d rather him neglect to post for a week than read about how much he overthinks Facebook.
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