Sunday, July 4, 2010

How to Use Facebook for Good Not Evil

Facebook isn't given the credit it deserves. In fact, the word "Facebook" is often synonymous with "procrastination." While you can find plenty of ways to waste time on Facebook, social networking on Facebook can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Try these tips to help you balance Facebook for good and not evil.


Avoiding the evils of Facebook

  1. Even an outdoor power nap might be break time better spent
    Even an outdoor power nap might be break time better spent
    Use Facebook as a distraction only on occasion. Take short breaks from tough assignments on occasion. Sometimes when you're sitting in your dorm room working on that 15 page paper for your Lit class, you need a mental break. If you find yourself drooling while blankly staring at the cursor on your Word document, it may be time to take that break. Taking a quick look at Facebook can be a good way to feel like you're connected to the outside world after being locked up doing whatever task you may be doing. However, don't forget that Facebook isn't the only way to break your mental block:
    • Sometimes taking a 5 or 10 minute walk outside can help.
    • Or maybe drop in on a friend to say a quick "hello." Have a coffee and browse through your friend's summer vacation album you've been meaning to flip through... then, back to the grind! 
  2. Don't overuse Facebook breaks. If you need to clear your mind so that you can stop procrastinating and get to business, using Facebook to achieve more procrastinating won't fix things. It is all too easy for your five minute Facebook break to turn into a half hour to an hour Facebook "break". Don't let that happen; do whatever it takes to make sure your mental break doesn't turn into procrastination:
    • Set a timer if you have to.
    • Schedule reminder updates to land on your Facebook page five minutes into use with messages like "Time's up dude!" (You can use a third party program to do this.)
    • Have a roommate, colleague, or friend tap you on the shoulder--if you're both trying to break the habit, this can be a shared routine until you both break the habit.

  3. It's all the fun of the fair until your friends tire of it
    It's all the fun of the fair until your friends tire of it
    Don't get too involved in the Facebook game apps. Beware of "time-swallower" Facebook applications. Many applications of the like are a pandemic! Not only are these applications a waste of time for you, they are for your Facebook friends as well. No one wants their mini-feed filled with "Emma just found a lost cow on her farm!" and few friends appreciate application suggestions sent to them that say "Greg just added goldfish to his tank in Fish Life and needs your help!"
    • Don't waste your own time and don't waste your friends' time. Mindless Facebook applications such as these are addicting and can have you spending more time than anyone needs to be spending on a social networking site.
  4. Don't start fights. You can use Facebook for "evil" by commenting negatively on your friends' posts. It is extremely tacky to start fights at all over petty things, but please refrain from starting fights over Facebook. If for no other reason, remember that Facebook world can see every detail of your fights (unless you put it into a private message, but that's beside the point...).
  5. Don't write notes that you don't feel comfortable having everyone read. Even if you only tag a few friends in the note, people are still able to look under the "recent notes" tab and read all their friends' notes and even notes that their friends were tagged in, even if not written by a Facebook friend. Remember, anything you post on the internet is subject to viewing eyes, so be selective with what you write. For example, don't write hate-notes about your ex, or notes about how awesome last Friday's party was (particularly if you know of people who weren't invited).
  6. Don't use Facebook to friend people you barely know and try to get in touch with them. We've all gotten friend requests from people that make us say "Do I know this person?" It seems a bit creepy and even superficial to friend people you barely know or don't know at all. Whether you friend them to start talking with them or viewing their information, or you just want more Facebook friends, this isn't the best way to use Facebook. It isn't quite "evil" until you start creeping on people.
    • Under certain conditions you can 'friend' people you don't know or barely know. Why? If you know you're going to meet someone at a party that day/night it is OK to friend them. Party guest lists are viewable on whatever party invite site the host happens to use. Friending allows the party guests to see your profile and that can be a great icebreaker. It also shows that you are thoughtful in that you have done something that few people do, i.e., take the time to look over the guest list.
    • So the person you friend isn't surprised by your invite you should send a note with the invite saying you will be at the same party that night and you have temporarily friended all the guests and they may delete the friendship tomorrow with no hard feelings.
    • The next day go to your friend page and delete the party friends. Also visit your invite history page and delete the unaccepted invites.
    • This is certainly unconventional so at the party expect attention. That is the goal, i.e., this will break the ice and start conversations that you might not have had and, who knows, you might make a real friend.

Enhancing the good of Facebook

  1. Add some fun applications to your Facebook profile. There are some really cool ways to stay connected to people and hobbies you love just by adding an application to your page.
    • Look for applications that can help you to keep track of family members. A good one will let you share family pages that you can post messages and family photos on.
    • Another good way to use Facebook applications is to find one that creates a virtual bookshelf to let your friends and family know what books you're currently reading, want to read, or have read. Try to get one that lets you see your friends' reads too.
  2. Post positive comments on pictures and posts that your friends put up. Many people use Facebook as a way to display their talents. Some people post regular notes about a particular topic because they are aspiring writers, some people use photo albums as a way to display their interest in photography, and some people just use their Facebooks to keep their friends and family up to date with pictures and posts. Whatever your friends use their Facebook messages for, it always feels good to get a compliment.
  3. Write notes that keep friends and family up to date on trips you are taking or endeavors you are taking on. Some people do not have Blogger or Wordpress accounts and can't "follow" your blog regularly and receive updates. Facebook is a great medium to do this. If you post updates on your blog, you can copy and paste those updates into a Facebook note and tag your friends in it. You can also post the link to your blog into the "share" bar so that Facebook world can go directly to your blog whenever you post something new.

  4. A visual graph of Facebook friends
    A visual graph of Facebook friends
    Use Facebook to keep in touch with old friends and long-distance friends. People often ask the question, "how did the world keep in touch before Facebook?". The only way to keep in touch used to be email, and before email, phone calls, and before phone calls -gasp- written letters. Often people will make friends at work or school that move away or go back to their hometown that isn't anywhere near close to you. Facebook is a great way to share pictures, chat, and "socialize" with long-distance and old friends. Of course this isn't as good as personal interaction, but it can be a good substitute until you can see your friend again.

  5. Facebook can 
be a supportive community of worthy causes.
    Facebook can be a supportive community of worthy causes.
    Find and support causes through Facebook. A myriad of worthy organizations, people, and events to support are available on this networking site. You can use Facebook to find volunteer opportunities in your community, for instance. Or support organizations such as environmental causes, the arts, political and religious---pretty much any cause one could imagine, and more. Instead of wasting all your time on Facebook, you can use social networking to make the world a better place.


  • If you're having a hard time controlling the "evils" of Facebook, consider checking out our articles on:
  • Always use common sense and keep safe on Facebook.
  • If you're having a hard time to get un-addicted, then don't use Facebook for one day. You'll be surprised by how much free time you have and by how it's taking up your life. If you're bored, talk to your friends, catch up on current events, or watch TV.

Things You'll Need

  • Facebook account
  • Timer (optional)
  • A good sense of fun

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