Confession, I’ve been on Facebook for almost a 1/3rd of my life. Yeah, let that sink in for a bit. I came to that somewhat awesome, yet also semi soul-crushing realization a few days ago.
When I joined the social network in mid 2005, I was a naive 17-year-old, who thought they knew a lot more about everything than they really did. In the little over 8 years I have been on Facebook, I’ve changed a lot, learned quite a few things about myself and my use of Facebook has shifted dramatically. Here’s eight lessons I have learned from my time on Facebook.
1. Why you shouldn’t “friend” everyone who sends you a friend request
I went through a phase my freshman of college where I literally friended every single person I met. That includes all the people I met at parties, where one or both of us may have been drunk at the time and probably wouldn’t remember each other the next day. At the time, it was more about having a large friend list, and appearing “popular” than anything else.
One can hopefully see how problematic this could be. It literally took a few years of me getting all kinds of random messages before I wised up and went on the great unfriending spree.
2. How to politely turn down a friend request
Now, I have let on in my previous point. I became a lot more selective on who I choose to be friends with on Facebook. It can be uncomfortable ignoring or declining a friend request. If it’s a total stranger that you have never met in person before, hitting the ignore button is perfectly acceptable.
If it’s someone you may have met once or twice- say at a conference- and aren’t comfortable friending, I have found that a short, honest note tends to go a long way. Sometimes, I’ll even suggest that we can connect on another more suitable platform, like Linkedin.
3.How to be authentic without oversharing
This is another big one I learned the hard way. There’s something about being 18 and 19 that makes you to do really stupid stuff – like overshare way too much information about yourself and what activities you were partaking in. (Hint, hint).
As I got older, I learned how to balance being authentic while still putting my best foot forward knowing that my Facebook friends list is compiled with people from all walks of my life from elementary/middle school friends to college buddies, coworkers (past and present) and family members.
4. How to create lists
One of the best ways that you can balance your authenticity without oversharing to certain folks is by learning how to create and master the Facebook lists functionality. How elaborate you make your Facebook lists is up to you. However, lists are a great way to share fun and exciting news with the people who are the most likely to care about it. Ex: Things that your family wants to know are probably not the same things that your middle school friends care about.
5. The value of Facebook (private) groups
I think Facebook groups may be one of the most underrated features. Facebook groups are really the only place where you can develop a true community around shared interests. As I got older, some of the most powerful and meaningful experiences I have come from Facebook groups I am part of – such as the U30pro group.
6. How to par down your friend list
This should be a no brainer. If you have been on Facebook for more than 3 years, you really should go through your friend list once a year and par it down a bit. If the thought of going through hundreds- or thousands- of friends terrifies you. Here’s a starter list that you can use to clean out your list.
If you don’t remember who the person is, unfriend them. . .
If the person got married and changed their last name, you don’t recognize the name anymore (and didn’t know they got married outside of Facebook) . . .
7. How to curate your newsfeed to see more of the stuff that you care about
As you friend more and more people and like more and more pages, your newsfeed is going to get cluttered. Simply relying on Facebook’s complex and seemingly innocuous algorithm is no longer going to be enough. There are things you can do to block out and hide certain content, such as all Facebook game requests.
8. How to stay in touch with friends even after your paths take you across the globe from each other
Lastly, the best perk of Facebook is how easy it is to stay in touch with friends even if one or both of you move halfway across the world. That’s really the most special thing about Facebook that keeps me logging back in.
What lessons have you learned from being on Facebook? Please share them below in the comment section. I’d love to hear them.