Friday, April 1, 2011

Facebook Flirting 101

Facebook isn’t the college reunion it was five years ago, when privacy was tighter than a spandex leotard and you could post just about anything without fear that a picture of you pole-dancing at that one party in college would surface during a job interview ten years later. Now it’s a free-for-all, highly visible, real-time accounting of our lives — both personal and professional — that requires us to keep our profiles G-rated, un-tagged and highly edited if we don’t want our professional lives to crash and burn. When you add the potentially explosive and unknown quantity of new romance into the mix, it’s necessary to keep a tight leash on FB interaction to keep our online personas from imploding.

Since we all flirt, we all have Facebook profiles and we all have jobs we’d like to keep, here are some helpful tips for how to handle some of the more common challenges of flirting in the modern Facebook age.

1. Keep your cyber-stalking habits on stealth mode. When you’re cruising through all 45 of your crush’s photo albums on FB, don’t go crazy with the picture commenting. Same goes for “liking” - it’s a little less intense, but too many instances of “John likes this”, and things will get weird fast. I once accepted a friend request from this guy I was in a class with, and he wrote a comment on almost every single one of my over 400 pictures. Weird? Yes — unfriending happened quickly thereafter. Besides looking obsessive, it makes the object of your affection wonder why you don’t have something better to do with your time. Keep the comments to only one or two of the truly exceptional pictures. If you must respond to status updates, make sure you don’t do it more than once every couple weeks.

2. Think before you post (on your profile). If you’re jonesing to shout to the world about how in love you are, email or message your amor instead. When you’re dealing with your profile, the only time it’s acceptable to post anything about someone else is if it’s anonymous — “Went on a fantastic date last night.” is perfect — it’s cute and holds a bit of enticing mystery. “Went on a fantastic date with [insert link to their profile here] and am counting down the minutes until I see her again” is TMI.

3. Think (even harder) before you post on their profile. Keep anything you post on their profile completely G-rated, non-flirty and devoid of insinuation or detail. First off, flirtations are much hotter when they’re done over text (see Texting Etiquette 101) over the phone, in person, or over email. When flirting happens on FB where everyone from their grandmother to their high-school ex-boyfriend to their creepy co-worker can see that you posted: “You’re a really good kisser and I can’t wait until our next date”, it’s bad. Posting links to something funny or mentioning you saw their doppelgänger on the street yesterday is fine — openly flirting and gushing about how awesome they are on the equivalent of a stage in front of their 500 closest friends, frenemies, family and co-workers is highly ill-advised.

4. When you get cyber bitch-slapped (i.e. unfriended), handle it with grace. Respect their choice and keep your reactions mature. If you absolutely must know why they did it, send them one respectful, emotionless email asking what happened: “Hey - I noticed I no longer see your profile. Did I do something to offend you?” They may have deleted their profile, they may be culling “friends” to avoid Facebook-whore status and keep their circle to only those 300 people closest to them, or maybe you did something to piss them off — it’s hard to tell. Whatever the reason, your best course of action is to accept it and move on.