Ten years ago, if you wanted to offend people using the internet, you had to send annoying email forwards to all of your contacts. These days, however, it's as easy as getting on Facebook and broadcasting your worst self for the entire world to see.
The ways to be off-putting on Facebook are endless — God only knows how many people I’ve offended over the years. So if you’re looking to make some new Facebook frenemies, you can count on a handful of repeat offenses to do the trick, starting with this one:
1. Post flattering bathroom selfies. Listen, I realize it feels great to take a picture of yourself that boosts your lagging self-confidence, but the problem is that it simply looks like bragging to everyone else. Here's an idea: try taking that bathroom selfie first thing in the morning while you've still got crust in your eyes and your hair looks like a rat’s nest. Yes, you'll look awful, but at least you'll leave people feeling better about themselves when they see your picture and think, Well, I guess I don't look so bad after all.
2. Let people know how hard you exercised. Unless you are seriously out-of-shape, your exercise pronouncements only serve to remind everyone else how fat they feel. However, if you absolutely must tell everyone how many miles you ran this morning, it will help if you admit you were trying to burn off an entire bag of mini-Twix you ate the night before.
3. Go on a vague rant about how offended you are about something you can't discuss right now. Most people are fairly insecure, and your generalized rant about being offended is sure to inspire some Facebook friends to think you're talking about them. Consequently, you’ll offend and shame multiple friends in one fell swoop, forever damaging those relationships. Way to go.
4. Go on a specific rant about things people do that annoy you. What's your pet peeve? Is it multilevel marketing? Helicopter parents? Vegans? Cat lovers? Well, whatever it is, don't keep it inside — let loose. Go on a Facebook rant about it. And for each dozen of your Facebook friends who like your status update, there will be at least one who thinks you're a jerk. But hey, look on the bright side: you got some likes!
5. Related to number four, write a status update about politics, race, religion, abortion, sexual orientation, breastfeeding versus formula, or some other polarizing issue. Unless every single Facebook friend of yours is in perfect agreement with your opinions, rest assured that a critical mass of folks will read your inflammatory status update, furrow their brows, and think a little less of you. Although there are times when you’re uniquely equipped to influence the public conversation, you'd better make sure that's the case before you click "post."
6. Tell everybody about the latest accomplishments of your overachieving child. Everybody knows your child got into Stanford and received a Volunteer Service Award from the president last year. Why? Because you found five different ways to mention it on Facebook in the last month. But rather than impress people, it just left them feeling like failures as parents. Trust me — if you want to use your kid to get a little Facebook love, keep it understated and infrequent. People can only take so much.
7. Invite people to play Texas HoldEm Poker, Diamond Dash, or Fruit Ninja Frenzy. If you need an explanation for this one, please stop reading this article immediately and go delete your Facebook account.
It would be easy to focus on all of the negative things about Facebook, but there are a lot of good reasons we all keep signing on. Think about it: there’s no telling how many old friendships have been rekindled, how many compassionate prayers have been prayed, how many class reunions have succeeded, how many family members have stayed up-to-date, or how many people have simply felt acknowledged on their birthday — all thanks to Facebook.
Despite all its baggage, Facebook connects people — perhaps not deeply — but at least it helps us keep taking those little steps that remind people we still care about them. That alone is something to be grateful for — not to mention the fact that, thanks in large part to Facebook, our email inboxes aren’t full of annoying forwards anymore.