Trials and Tribulations of Facebook

Facebook has become part of modern life with 60% of the UK having an account. Along with all its benefits, Facebook is a minefield of tricky social interactions that have a set of rules and complications. When a rule isn’t followed or a tricky situation is encountered, it often results in some sort of conflict.

It is hard to know whether you have crossed a social boundary, until you get abusive comments, unfollowed or deleted as a ‘friend’. This can feel confusing and hurtful. The thing to remember is that Facebook is not real life and users often feel like they can behave in unacceptable ways that they would not dream of in face-to-face interactions. This does not make it OK though.

There are certain topics that are generally good to avoid, whether real life or virtual, because they are well known for causing conflict. These are politics, religion and finances. The risk of talking about these topics on Facebook is that you will get drawn into an argument and are likely to end up with hurt feelings. You should also avoid subjects that you know are triggering for you. You may not get immediate responses or the ones you want to hear and so may be left with difficult emotions to process on your own.

It is important to remember that once you have written something publically on Facebook, it is available for the world to see and not just the person that you are speaking to. It is easy to write something in the ‘emotion of the moment’ without putting too much thought into it and hitting send. Once you have hit send, you may regret it later, once your emotions are in a different place, and at this point it may be too late. It is always good to stop and wait until you have calmed down to write a response; you might find you don’t even want to.

Words can often be misinterpreted across Facebook. It is OK to ask for clarification to what they meant, to ensure any misinterpreting doesn’t happen. First consider if it is more appropriate sent as a private message. By simply asking ‘What do you mean?’ will give you time to assess if the comment has triggered any negative emotions that are causing you to react in a way you might regret. Think about how you want to respond and ensure that you are responding appropriately. You do not have to reply immediately, it isn’t always expected on Facebook. If someone has upset you with something they have said, it is best not to reply publicly. You could send them a private message saying you were hurt by their words. This will reduce the risk of other people jumping in to confuse you both. A good rule to remember is that if you think what you are about to write has any risk of causing further conflict, don’t write it. If you have caused someone else offense without meaning to, say sorry.

Facebook is often misinterpreted as forum to write overly personal or emotional things. Not everyone that reads them is a nice person, especially if your profile is public. Your sensitive feelings may not be treated delicately by other people on Facebook so this could put you in a vulnerable situation. These kind of comments should be kept private for the people that you trust.

Although your comment can be deleted, it cannot be ‘unread’ by the people that have read it so be careful.