Thursday, November 4, 2010

Facebook Literacy & Etiquette

"Stace! Stace!!! He Facebooked me back," I enthused excitedly to one of my best friends about some boy I was fascinated with circa 2008.

"Really? I don't see anything on your wall - did he send you a private message?" Stace asked.

"Ugh, no, he replied to me in a comment to my post on his wall," I replied disappointedly.

"Ah, that's because he's from Europe. They're really Facebook-illiterate that way," Stace told me sympathetically.

And that made me wonder - how did Facebook etiquette get established?

I started in...either 2004 or 2005. Probably 2005. It was either the Christmas or summer vacation before university, and my American cousin came to visit me in Toronto. She asked if I had Facebook, and while I'd heard of it before, it hadn't really caught on yet and I didn't really know anyone who used it. She showed me what it was, and it seemed cool so I signed up as well.

By the time I started university, it started getting popular, and I was really proud to be one of the first people on the floor of my residence (and, in fact, one of the first people I knew) to have an account. Everyone started signing up in first year, and just a year later, it was this huge thing that just exploded on the scene.

Back in Facebook's early days, there was no comment feature, so to reply, you had to go write on someone's wall. If you wanted to review a conversation, you had to go look at your Wall-to-Wall page.

When the Comment feature began, old skool Facebook users like me resisted the change - instead of commenting on someone's post, we still went back to post on someone's wall as a courtesy. When people just commented on a post, it seemed a little...well, rude. Especially if/when someone's wall was viewed as a popularity meter.

And it was then that I realized that how people use Facebook, what kind of etiquette they go by and how they interpret different ways of communicating via Facebook are based on when they got an account. Kind of interesting, huh?

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