No one ever likes to lose a friend, but ever since Facebook became a social media powerhouse, it's happens all the time. While it's not the same thing as losing the BFF you've known since the fifth grade, finding out someone has un-friended you on Facebook can still hurt -- particularly if you have no idea why.
Enter Erin M. Bryant and Jennifer Marmo, two students out of the University of Arizona who co-authored a study on the unspoken guidelines to Facebooking. The 23-page study was conducted using two experiments. Part one utilized a focus group of 44 students to create 36 rules to friendship on Facebook. The second part then put those rules to the test by having the focus group rank them in terms of importance when it came to friends who were described as "close", "casual", and just "acquaintances".
Each rule fell into one of five categories: means of communicating, deception and control, relational maintenance, negative consequences for the self, and negative consequences for a friend. According to Marmo, the experiment came about after the two students were curious about the rules of Facebook that no one teaches.
“There’s no handbook for how to use Facebook. There isn’t an instruction manual telling you how to act, how to behave,” said Marmo in an interview with the National Post.
Below is a collection of the top 10 tips Facebook users ought to keep in mind if they want to keep their friends. Story continues below:
While Facebook does have some rules, such as explicit bans on hate speech and nudity, it leaves user interaction up to the user -- a blessing as there's almost no limits when it comes to sharing photos or videos of a memorable party, and a curse if half of those party photos could damage your reputation.
The do's and don'ts of Facebook may be pretty basic, but they serve as a humble reminder that just because you're friends with someone online, it doesn't reflect the strength of the friendship, according to Bryant.
"Even though I'm letting you see these things [on my profile], I don't expect you to suddenly try to IM me on Facebook," said Bryant in an interview with Live Science. "It creeps me out if you come post on my wall."
Readers interested in checking out the remaining 26 guidelines can find their study in April's edition of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
- Think of it as online karma: if someone has posted on your wall then they're going to be expecting a response.
- The old adage of "If you don't have anything nice, don't say it at all" still applies on Facebook.
- Everything you post of a friend's wall has consequences, remember that.
- Should a friend delete a wall post, photo or tag then there's probably a valid reason why.
- Social media may be great for sharing and keeping in touch with people but it's not a replacement for human contact. Remember, Facebook friends chat. Real friends chat in person.
- No one wants to be friends with a liar, so keep deception to a minimum or save it for those dating websites.
- Nowadays it's increasingly harder to disconnect from Facebook, thanks to mobile devices. But that doesn't excuse you from becoming a Facebook addict. After all, no one likes hanging out with a person who can't be torn away from a screen for more than five minutes.
- In many ways, Facebook can be a double-edged sword. Case in point: just because that photo at the office Christmas party had over 50 likes doesn't mean it can't come back to nip you in the butt by someone seeking vengeance.
- Most people involved in the study said use a "common sense" rule in their interactions with Facebook friends.
- When in doubt, ask yourself this: "what would my boss or my friend's boss think if they saw this post?"