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manners - suzy mac“I’m sorry, but it is a FACT that there is such a thing as manners; a way of treating people… These fish have manners. The fish are coming with me.” – Jerry Maguire

Manners also apply to Facebook and there are some boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.

Like posting political, religious, or any other content onto another person’s page that you know, or even suspect, flies in the face of their own beliefs. Worse still, reposting it after it has been removed.

OK, so it can be argued that Facebook is sort-of a public forum but you do need an invitation to join a friend’s page and I feel it’s a bit like being invited into their home.

You’re privileged to a virtual participation in their day to day; standing in the kitchen and chatting while they cook, watching sports with them, etc.

But Facebook friends share and engage on a level of their own choosing and that’s as it should be. It is the prerogative of every individual to disclose as much or as little as they want and to have their own convictions and opinions respected without explanation or reprisal.

When you’re invited into a friend’s home, do you brow-beat them on their beliefs or hang political or religious posters on their walls because you believe they need educating to your point of view? Hell no. If you did you’d unlikely be invited back.

This week I had to evict (unfriend) someone, already on probation of sorts, for repeated obnoxious behaviour. He’d had me hesitating when it came to ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ other friends posts, because of the tiresome tidal wave of condescension and snarky comments I’d expect. I was self-censoring because of one single heckler.

It started harmlessly with a badly doctored movie poster where I’d inserted a certain public figure’s (Caucasian) head onto Wesley Snipes’ body. Oddly it worked.

Freakishly altered images of myself, animals, and public figures are kind of my trademark and the botch-job I do on these is usually funnier than the intended satire.  It’s just light entertainment and the comments generated usually spiral into even more silliness.

This time my tongue-in-cheek artwork, one of my better efforts I must say, was immediately invaded with images and propaganda. Friends’ and family’s light hearted comments and ‘likes’ were dissected, ‘corrected’ and treated with a stream of smart-arsed quipping.

I suggested politely that the correct place to conduct a personal crusade was on his own page – and this was in fact my page. As the problem progressed I lost all subtlety; I deleted comments, I gratuitously abused the CAPS LOCK. I felt like belting him over the head with a king-sized exclamation mark to be honest (preferably one made of lead). Death by punctuation!

My post-mortem on his behaviour got me thinking about people whose agree-to-disagree gene seems to be missing. A resolute belief that one’s personal opinions are unquestionably correct and come with a mandate to educate (or eliminate) opposition is called a God Complex.  Think Mugabe and the Taliban and you know this level of righteous conviction just doesn’t lead anywhere good.

After removing another image and rant only to see it reposted immediately, I really blew a fuse and hit the button…


Shoving your opinions down other people’s throats (or on their Facebook pages) is as tiresome as it is pointless.

And it’s just plain bad manners.

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2 comments so far -

  1. Ha! I’m taking the fish with me, too.

    I defriended someone for posting a Foetal Alcohol website into a conversation where 2 of my pregnant friends were discussing recent studies that suggested a glass of wine might be acceptable. He was med student but didn’t seem to understand that in facebook-land he is nobody’s doctor.

  2. Such a great story! What has happened to manners! I have just had an interesting interaction with one of my Facebook friends.

    She shared a great survey researching bullying in Equestrian Sport. I did the survey and loved the definition of Bullying used in the survey, so I shared it and copied it onto her page to encourage others to do the survey she had requested us all to do.

    I was very surprised when she started questioning the definition and citing freedom of speech as the reason for disliking the definition.

    This is the definition I shared; “Bullying is considered to be physical or verbal threats, assault, threats of harm to a person or their property, rumours, sarcasm, gossiping, demeaning language (attempts to dominate or humiliate another person), leaving people out of things or other people supporting the bully to avoid being bullied. Bullying can be in person or via social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Horse Forums).

    Bullying is not necessarily a one-off remark, as the person may apologise for their behaviour which is out of character. Its generally a pattern of behaviour by the bully that is repeated which contributes to you feeling distressed (Beyond Blue 2013, Field, 2013)”

    I think what your EX Facebook “Friend” did fits into this definition of Bullying BIG TIME.

    I have read and re read this definition and I cannot for the life of me see any threat to freedom of speech. I’d like to know if anyone can explain how not behaving in this manor impinges on freedom of speech.

    The only thing I think it impinges on is peoples ability to be RUDE and ILL MANNERED.

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