The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 1, 2013

BILL EGGERT | Ten Commandments of Facebook

Eric Knopsnyder

JOHNSTOWN — Social media have become all the rage these days. Facebook leads the charge in this area. Inadvertently, Facebook has provided sociologists with a template on how society is relating to each other. Or not.

Young people are no longer the only folks to populate Facebook. The Boomer Generation and Generation X have adopted it as well, initially for high school reunions, but beyond as folks keep up with old classmates and friends. And that leads to the discussion of what is a friend. Webster defines the word “friend” as “one attached to another by affection and esteem.”

Given that definition, it seems improbable, even impossible, for a young person (or any age) to have say, 1,000, or even 500 true friends, given that many of these “friends” have never met, or even spoken on the phone.

Facebook should have an equal section called “acquaintances.” Or even pen pals, or cyber-pals. But friends? That’s a bit of a stretch. Meeting someone in person brings to surface issues not on Facebook.

I do not mean to be dismissive of Facebook or Facebook friends. There is something to be said for being a cyber-pal with someone 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, or even in Europe. And for pre-existing friends (made the old-fashioned way) Facebook can be a convenient way to keep in touch.

But Facebook has morphed more into a celebration of “self” than one of friendship. While I am an advocate of personal self-esteem, I feel Facebook has created a Frankenstein monster of ego.

With this in mind, after consulting with friends on their beefs with Facebook, I have come up with a “Ten Commandments of Facebook.”

These rules are designed to short-circuit the egotistical impulses rampant on Facebook these days. And here they are:

1) Thou shalt not chronicle mundane events of the day. You went to Taco Bell for lunch? Thank you for sharing that with us.

2) Thou shalt not ask friends to cut and paste sentiments to test their loyalty. Why?

3) Thou shalt not use Facebook as a bully pulpit to preach your political beliefs. We do not care what your political beliefs are, and you are wasting your time/energy trying to change folks’ minds. Who are they trying to convince? Answer: Themselves. Sidebar fact: Liberals are the major offenders.

4) Thou shalt not troll.  Trolling to start arguments is bogus; there is enough discord out there. Can you imagine how sick a person must be to start an argument just for the sake of starting an argument?

5) Thou shalt not invite friends into games like Farmville. We are busy enough, thank you. Also I resent folks who only contact us to suggest we play these games. “Unfriend” these so-called friends.

6) Thou shalt not post excessively. Is your life that meaningless and needy that you have to post your every single thought to get a response from friends? How sad is that?

7) Thou shalt not fish for compliments. Insecurities are not pretty; please spare us.

8) Thou shalt not fish for sympathy. Be honest, just come out and say you are feeling bad, etc.

9) Thou shalt not promote thyself unashamedly. It is very unbecoming, and not very subtle.

10) Thou shalt not post photos of your restaurant meals. Why would we want to see a photo of your restaurant meal? Did you make it? This infantile practice adds nothing to anyone’s life. Al Roker threw a hissy fit on “The Today Show” because someone criticized him doing this. Really, Al? Boo, hiss.

So there you have it. The Ten Commandments of Facebook. How many have you broken?

I think these transgressions of taste and decorum were not deliberate at first, they just developed over time, given the nature of Facebook.

A healthy ego is one thing; an uber-ego is quite something else. Mark Zuckerberg, thanks a heap. I’ll send you a photo of my Baconator at Wendy’s, lol.

Bill Eggert is a Johnstown resident. He writes an occasional column.