Once upon a time, if someone was your friend, you’d know it because they’d allow you to sit at their lunch table (even if Sarah F. was supposed to be sitting there).
Those days have passed, and the meaning of the word “friend” has come to encapsulate a variety of relationship concepts, such as “person you met at a party once,” “former co-worker of two weeks,” and “Ethiopian man who gives creative compliments.” As a result, it’s understandable if you feel you need a little guidance on how you’re supposed to interact with these people. Let’s begin with an examination of when it’s acceptable to comment on someone’s status.
Posts about a person having a crappy day
If you’ve talked to this person in the past month, it’s acceptable to comment on their rhetorical question of “Can anything else go wrong today???” and offer an electronic shoulder to lean on. But if you haven’t talked to this person in the past month . . . why today? It’s “misery loves company,” not “company loves misery.” Acquaintances who post on sad statuses are just this side of being a vulture.
Posts about a person getting a new job
Let’s say your friend announces she got a new gig. You don’t know what the company is, but she seems excited about it. If you’ve talked to this “friend” in the past two years, it’s cool to congratulate her on making some moves. But if this is one of those people you did a summer internship with a few years back and sort of left it at that, be careful. A job-related comment might come across like a self-important networky thing because let’s face it, you probably are trying to pull a self-important networky thing. LinkedIn all you want, but come on—you haven’t attended a single one of her improv shows.
Posts about a person entering a relationship
Okay. If this is one of those things where the the couple has been dating for a while and only just finally made it Facebook-official, go ahead, make the joke. But if you honestly haven’t talked to the person since you two dated and had that nasty breakup, maybe save your “So happy for you!” [Subtext: I’m still here] for a more personal method of communication. Or, you know, remind yourself about how much that person sucks and doesn’t deserve anyone’s affections. You probably won’t feel the need to comment after that.
Posts about something a sports team did
From what I can glean from my sports-obsessed friends’ walls (a small sample pool, to be sure), a relationship in which you both root for the same team or enjoy a healthy (and civil) rivalry can outlast any other form of communication you two may have had. So when The USC beats The Bulls or something, say your “BOOYA! This player is not as talented as that player!” However, please note that you are making any not-interested-in-sports friends want to gouge their eyes out.
Posts posing a question
If your friend is open-minded enough to write a Facebook post posing a question, she probably doesn’t have the same social boundaries that inspired a blog post like the one you’re currently reading. Like the sports stuff, this is another all’s fair situation. All opinions will be considered equally, and she’s probably expecting an out-of-the-woodworks avalanche. Just don’t pose another question in the comments: That would be chaos!
Posts about a person’s pet if it’s not actually adorable
Don’t encourage them. I know there’s the trigger finger response whenever you see someone happy and with animal, but our society is currently dealing with a glut of pet pics. It’s a problem. Just because something has fur and eyes does not mean it’s making a valuable contribution to civilization. Only the cutest should be validated! (Unless you really need something from this person, in which case, a simple, “Awww” can go a long way, seriously.)
Do you guys have opinons on when it’s appropriate to post on someone’s status? Let us know in the comments!
Photos: “Tiptoe Bear” by Rega Photography; “Smug” by Weasello; “Happy Couple” by Angelo Gonzalez; “AFC Bournemouth – Fans 9” by Lucy Boynton; “Megaphone Against the SPP” by Robert Thivierge; “Sam, The World’s Ugliest Dog” by Stephen Pierzchala