10 Crazy Things People Will Do on Facebook That They Won't in Real Life

By - January 24, 2014

If there’s one thing I’m sure of in life, it’s that people, overall, are a little quirky.  Not all actually, legally insane, mind you…but just “different” enough to make you thank your lucky stars that your quirks, at least when you compare them with those of some others, seem mild and maybe a little passable.

If there’s a second thing I’m sure of in life, it’s that the advent of and rise in popularity of social media has served not just to highlight that people, as a whole, are more than a little quirky.  This new medium of social interaction has also served to unleash new horrors to the masses and cultivate amongst them a feeling that these eccentricities aren’t odd at all.  Call me crazy, but I doubt you will after you read this list and recognize many of your friends on it—and gasp!  Maybe even you…

I am terrified and somewhat appalled to present for your approval:

The Top Ten Crazy Things People will DO On Facebook They Won’t in Real Life: 

10.)  Express hardcore shock and dramatic grief when they learn of the passing of a celebrity they barely even like (and have probably only thought about once in the past decade).

Actor Paul Walker tragically passed away Nov. 30, 2013 after he sustained injuries from a car wreck before he could finish filming his latest movie installment, The Fast and the Furious 7.  Please, don’t get me wrong here.  I extend my heartfelt condolences to his friends and family, and it was a heartbreaking, horrible accident.

And yet...based on the statuses on my facebook feed in the following days full of outpourings of soul-wrenching grief, you’d have thought at least 75% of my facebook friends were members of Paul’s immediate family,..or at least of his Official Paul Walker fan club, bought his used sheets on ebay to turn them into dresses, and that the bead of sweat they caught in a vial off of him as they passed him in the subway that day now resides under their pillow each night.

Sad fact?  Most weren’t members of his fan club.  In fact, until the news broke that he was dead, most wouldn’t have even remembered his name.  They’d need to yank out their phones to Google him and find out why his name sounded familiar.  But as soon as they realized who he was, another strange event would take place: despite that fact that only moments ago they couldn’t remember who he was, they’d suddenly be grief-stricken, and their own “RIP Paul Walker” status would manifest on their facebook wall.  After all, now that they DO know who he was and how they knew of him, they are, of course, distraught that he is gone, right?

But they’ll keep their “grief” on facebook. In reality, if someone posts a status that grief-stricken, they might be interested in heading over to donate in Walker’s memory to his charity, Reach Out World Wide, or at least remember to go and see his movie when it comes out.

9.)  Publicly lament to hundreds of acquaintances the state of their monthly cycles.

Now, I’m as free-thinking of a female as the next, and monthly periods are nothing to be ashamed of.  However, there’s not being ashamed, and there’s taking out a billboard on the interstate to advertise.  Like plantar’s warts or uncomfortable stomach upset, just because it’s going on in your body doesn’t mean it’s news to those around you (and if it IS important news to them, perhaps you should reevaluate those you keep on your friends list).  People don’t check out at the grocery store and respond to the cashier’s polite question of, “How are you doing today?” with something so personal as, “Well, I’d be great if I wasn’t leaking the effects of yet another month of failing to fertilize my womb, but thanks for asking.”  (At least God, I hope most people don’t do that!). So if you wouldn’t tell your coffee barista or your neighbor when you run into each other at the mailbox, let’s just be a grown up and keep the private health matters to ourselves.  If we need to complain, maybe it’s time to call and tell the one person who might actually help: your doctor.

8.)  Use the check-in feature religiously.

Have you ever gone out to dinner with a friend and watched as they systematically went through every contact in the cell phone and made personal calls to each to notify their friends, family, and acquaintances of where they were having dinner?  Ever have to wait to get in line at the movies long enough to let your friend send personal texts to everyone he knows letting them know which theatre he’s at?  Yeah.  Me, neither.

7.)  Minors talking openly about drinking alcohol and/or posting pictures of themselves with beer in hand.

Maybe you think it’s cool, kiddos, but the bad news is that while the Facebook police might not come get you, the real police could see that and haul you in for underaged drinking.  Even if you can post a picture of yourself getting sloshed at nineteen, it doesn’t mean you should.  If you wouldn’t walk up to a cop on the street holding your beer in one hand and your ID showing your age to be 19 in the other in real life…don’t do it on facebook, either.


6.) Use their baby’s picture as the image that represents them.

If you got pulled over for speeding, you wouldn’t whip out your little punkin’s latest Olan Mills session photos to prove your identity, would you?  So why the heck do you have your kid’s photo in place of yours as your profile picture on facebook?  Can you post pics of your kids on Facebook?  Sure.  Should post them where YOUR picture is supposed to go?  Not so much.  We get it- that sweet little dickens is your life now.  But really, does it have to be your life AND your face?

5.)  Talk about how much you hate your job, your boss, and your coworkers.

I have some news you might not have heard: privacy setting aren’t always perfect. If you wouldn’t bust out the megaphone every morning in the office and list a long diatribe of grievances against those who pay you and work alongside you, you might want to think twice about doing it online, too.

4.)  Ask their facebook friends for advice in “expertise” type fields like medical or legal advice when they have the full knowledge the vast majority of their friends do not have the credentials to give said advice so much as render opinions.

Hey!  Quick real life quiz: your kid is sick. In real life, would the best idea be a. to call your college roommate whom you haven’t seen in seven years (you’re not exactly sure what her last name is now) to ask her what to do, b. dig through your ancient rolodex to find the number for your Great Aunt Barb, who isn’t really your aunt, but more of your mom’s best friend from high school who you lost touch with a few years back, but you always liked her to get advice, or c. call your child’s pediatrician’s office.

3.)  Ask general questions anyone might know, but that could be solved a lot quicker using another method.

“Hey, does anyone know if Walmart sells those pre-paid phones?”  “Does anyone know what time the school’s parent teacher conference starts?”  “What should I feed this new salamander I bought?” 

A direct relative of number four, the general questioner is a slightly different breed.  Despite the fact that the general questioner is typing this status, they’re sitting in front of a computer with a search engine a billion times more powerful (and faster) than their few hundred facebook friends. Not only that, but in real life, would you really call everyone on your contacts list on the off chance that one of them has owned a salamander and might know what you need to feed ‘ole Newt?  Probably not.  You’d probably just phone the pet store where you bought him. 

Now, obviously this doesn’t apply to certain questions that don’t have clear parameters or answers.  If your salamander is running in circles after giving him the food sold to you by the pet store, your local vet is closed for the day, and a quick Google search has returned no results when you typed, “Circle-running salamander,” you’re within your sane rights to post an all-call asking if anyone you know has any salamander knowledge.  Just remember, when you do this, you’re in danger of getting answers from non-experts as described in number four, so tread lightly.

But for the basics, stick to the “Who would I ask in real life?” method.  Calling the school to ask about the parent teacher conference is way faster and more reliable than having twenty-five comments that contradict each other.  “I think it’s at 7.”  “I heard middle school at 6:30, high school at 7:30.”  “I thought that was tomorrow…” 

2.)  Friend people they don’t know.

Sure, the trend of online networking means that the lines of whether or not you “know” someone can be a little murky.  Some people stick to friending only actual friends (shocking), but social networking makes it common (and acceptable) to “friend” business contacts, old classmates they’ve lost touch with, that guy your friend brought to karaoke night a few weeks in a row, and even people you technically only “know” on the internet because they chat on the same forum about amateur pony-grooming as you.  All that?  Pretty standard, and depending on your comfort level, not too abnormal.

But here’s where it gets weird: on facebook, you might actually get a friend request from that lady who goes to church with your mom.  She’s never actually met you, and you only know who she is because you saw your mom was a mutual friend, so you called your mom and asked who the heck this person was.  Now, whether or not this lady is completely harmless is irrelevant.  Here’s why it’s downright weird she’d “friend” you just because she knows your mom.  In real life, it’s like her showing up on your doorstep, introducing herself, and asking if she can come inside to look through your picture albums.  Doesn’t seem as innocuous now, huh?  And if you accept her as a friend?  Well, you’re inviting this stranger to see pictures of your family, read about any of your life goings-on that you post about, and, if you’re someone mentioned in number eight, giving knowledge of your whereabouts to at all times.  Real life equivalent?  “Sure, come on in, stranger.  Can you watch my two-year-old for a second while I run upstairs and fetch my photo albums for you?  What did you say your name was again?”

Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, huh?

And the number one crazy thing people do on facebook they don’t (hopefully) do in real life:

1.      Lurk.

You know they’re out there.  They’re the people on your feed who never post anything about themselves, and if you ever remember to go by their profile, you’ll notice they’ve posted one picture (of their dog) and have maybe played a game of Farmville.  So what’s their real motivation for being on facebook? To watch whoever they’re friends with.

In real life, if you wanted to know what your employee did while not on the clock, would you go sit outside his house with binoculars?  Dig through his trash to see if any empty beer cans resided there?  If you were curious about a friend’s new baby, wouldn’t it be more normal to send a card, call and schedule a visit, or drop an e-mail to say, “Thinking of you, send a picture when you can,” instead of daily checking for updates on this person without ever so much as letting them know you care? 

I guess it’s the reality that now, convenience in stalking—erm, being interested in—people we know is the rule and not the exception. But still, when you think about it, partaking in the sharing without sharing alike does seem a little crazy.  After all, in real life, if you care enough to drop by to see the new baby and bring a casserole, you’ll probably sit down, have a cup of tea, and trade stories about what’s new in your life, too…not snap a Polaroid of the baby as you run by and throw the casserole in the open door.

So there you have it—my top ten list of crazy things people do on facebook they don’t do in real life. 

Do you do any of these things?  Which crazy facebook habits did I miss? 


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