Etiquette and Facebook part 2 – WWJ(A)D?

Or for those who didn’t read Morgue’s comment on my last FB musing/dilemma – What Would Jane Austen Do?

I was going to doing a witty piece about FB and relate it back to you with some equally witty Jane Austen quotes which I could then go on to publish in a book and make myself a mint on the novelty-books-that-I-have-never-seen-anyone- actually-buy-but-seem-to-be-stocked-EVERYWHERE -even-the-nice-independent-booksellers … but … er … well, I think it’s time to blow my cover … you see, in spite of the air of sophistication and literacy I have about me, I actually have never read any Austen (or Bronte for that matter – I think I can hear Louise fainting …).

I know, I know, I know … look I can’t explain it, I have a thing for Shakespeare, Webster, Middleton etc. But between that period and 20th Century literature, there is one huge empty shelf in the bookcase in my mind (obviously not in my actual bookcase, on that one you’ll just see a lot of books on Shakespeare, theatre, Elizabethan stage practice, politics and philosophy books about most eras and then a lot of 20th Century stuff). I can’t explain it. Oh, ok, yes I can … too many words.

*stunned silence*

From the back of the crowd group The only person reading this puts their hands up to ask “but Sonal? You like Shakespeare. That’s like too many words and then some!”

Shakespeare doesn’t write too many words (but we’re not going into that discussion right now – however, if we must reduce Shakespeare, then I highly recommend The Skinhead Hamlet – genius!). The trick to Shakespeare is to read it out loud, in your own accent and not to stop reading the sentence until you hit some punctuation. When you get to the punctuation, treat it as you would normally, a slight breath for a comma, a conclusion at the full stop. Also, in my defence, Shakespeare wrote plays not novels, all you’re reading is dialogue and stage directions. I just find Austen, Bronte, Dickens et al a little too florid in their prose for my liking.

Someone with a FB account puts their hand up: “uh Sonal? You’ve got The Satanic Verses as your favourite novel, Rushdie is totally going florid on your arse right there!”

Uh, ok, fine, you’ve got me there! I’m just an illiterate ass (as in donkey, for anyone wondering why I’ve written arse (as in bottom) earlier … see what I did right there *yes we did, geek*). So back to the topic at hand …

In the world of FB etiquette, WWJ(A)D? Well, poor as my associations are with Austen (she says holding up her DVD copy of the Andrew Davies/BBC version of Pride and Prejudice) it certainly got me thinking and in turn brought up a few other categories to worry about, so in order to add to your already numerable social anxieties:

People who I do not know for the life of me, but are on the vague periphery of my circle
Like really vague, like, we know the same people but I haven’t got a fucking clue who they are. And yet, they’ve sent me a friend invite. WWJ(A)D? Well a number of questions are thrown up here – were we ever introduced? You know, properly introduced as in “Sonal this is X, X this is Sonal, she’s fabulous …” (hey, it’s my blog) and that’s it, you go off to find another glass of wine before the free alcohol runs out and possibly nod a greeting as you pass each other on the street thereafter. Considering that none of these things have happened, WWJ(A)D? I don’t know, maybe something with comical misunderstandings and finally a marriage at the end … someone help me!
What did I do? Accepted the invite – I’m too polite to turn them down, but on reflection, I still can’t ever remember meeting them or hanging out long enough to warrant a friends invite.

People who you have absolutely no idea what so ever
Clarification: Not people whom you only know by their superhero names (online friends). These are people you know absolutely nothing about, you’ve never read their blog, they’ve never commented on yours, that has been no mutual transaction of information, this is probably someone who wants to boost the number of friends in their profile box. Or to jump authors for a bit, a possible Becky Sharp in the making. WWJ(A)D? Well, I guess this depends which Austen character you are (cue yet another ego massaging internet quiz that will always tell you that you are just like Elizabeth Bennet no matter what answers you give) … befriend the poor, sad soul who needs to learn that happiness cannot be measured by the number of friends you have? Or tell them to shove off, in the most polite and witty way possible (with perhaps some grim misunderstanding thrown your way by fate which happily is resolved with a marriage at the end).

People who you may have recently hooked up with, broken up with in a variety of circumstances
For those of you not living in London with me and for the benefit of my mother – this is a hypothetical situation, I have not hooked up with anyone – the London folk can, sadly, vouch for me … Yes, we are in Social Anxiety Hell, like an long forgotten episode of Dawson’s Creek

Do you send a friend invite to recent hook ups? Is it up to you send the invite or is it up to them? What does it say about your feelings about that person if you send them a friend invite? Can it be read as “I think you’re a cool person and hey, I’d like to think we can be friends” or “I wanna see how this works out, call me” or “hey, I’m cool with this and we can be friends, or not, whatever, I don’t really care, but I don’t want you to think I’m completely aloof or shallow, just, you know, ball is in your court” or “marry me, please, marry me, no I’m serious, we are going to get married one day, you and me … oh god I’m so lonely”? What are you meant to think when you recieve an invite? “Hey, cool, X wants to be friends” or “Oh, crap, does this mean we’re in a relationship now?” or “If I add them as a friend, EVERYONE is going to know we’re together”? or “Wohoo, I think we can officially count this as in a relationship!” WWJ(A)D? Oh my … I think maybe sit down with the complete Austen canon and perhaps remember that your anxieties may not resolve themselves to comic effect with a marriage, or ending up with Dawson or Pacey and that cold hard reality may be in the form of Tom Cruise … tread with care …

Relationship status
So, you’ve been silly enough to put your relationship status up on FB and you haven’t quite figured out a way to turn off the setting that tells everyone you’ve remove your relationship status (go to the privacy tab in the top right hand corner of the FB page, click on news and minifeed, uncheck the box that says “remove my relationship status” so that it doesn’t get published for everyone to see). You’re in a relationship, it’s the first month, you’ve gone beyond the friend invite awkwardness. Do you change your relationship setting to “in a relationship”? Do you go as far as to say “in a relationship with X”? Do you want the world to know, who you’re going out with? Is there a reason why you don’t want everyone to know who you’re going out with? Is this something you talk about as a couple or do you surprise each other (and then who does it first and what does that say about the state of your relationship)?
WWJ(A)D? Probably display that you are indeed single, but dignified enough to not say what you are looking for and then quietly with the help of the privacy settings, just remove the relationship box all together. Your good friends will already know all about it and general society will know soon enough that you are happily attached (and, well, if you want it, they’ll probably read all about your wedding in the society pages anyway).

Throw your social networking dilemmas this way and together with Jane Austen, we’ll find a solution (or a have a interesting social debate that reconciles into a marriage at the end).

If I haven’t sufficiently scared you all (and myself) from ever interacting on FB again … next time on Etiquette and Facebook – Stalking: The fine art of going through your friend’s friends list.

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5 Responses to “Etiquette and Facebook part 2 – WWJ(A)D?”

  1. Um, you just mentioned Dawson’s Creek and Tom Cruise in a post about Jane Austen.

    Jane Austen would HATE Dawson’s Creek and Tom Cruise (though she’d probably have a secret soft-spot for Pacey).

    I’ll forgive you though.

    Okay, so the shocking thing isn’t that you’re missing out on the canon of Austen and Bronte but that… well… they’re some of only very few female writers published in ye olde times and worth reading just for that. I would recommend that you skip Bronte, skip the populist Austen (P&P, S&S and Emma) and read Persuasion. It’s one of the shorter ones, probably the best one, and one of my favourite ever books. You’ll undoubtedly want to hit Anne Elliot, but at the same time I think you’ll empathise all the same. It’s a book about yearning and loneliness, and I believe to be the one that provides more insight into Jane Austen than the others – despite the fact that Becoming Jane would have us believe that her life singularly paralleled P&P.

  2. PS NEVER – NNNEEEEEEVVVVVVEEEEERRRR – read Norhanger Abbey or Mansfield Park. They’re what I was referring to when I corrected Becoming Jane’s final (and oh so patronising) credit as saying Austen went on to write six of English Literature’s finest novels.

  3. You’re really going to hate me now … out of my own shame, I finally picked up Pride and Prejudice … I was bored out of my brain.

    Will try Persuasion and see if that changes my mind about literature from that era.

  4. I LOVE Mansfield Park. (My favorite comfort reading…)
    Just wanted that out there.
    even her more flawed books say more on one page than a lot of modern novelists say over entire books.

  5. Oh Nora … I can respect your affection for Mansfield Park and Jane Austen – fair enough, to each their own …

    But don’t say things against ‘modern novelists’ to me … you’re comparing apples with orchids.

    Also, waving a red flag in the face of this bull (and I’m sorry all lovers of Austen novels out there, I still do not like her books) will force me to bring the whole of 20th and 21st Century novelists against your argument: Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Hanif Kureshi, Kiran Desai, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Maurice Gee, Witi Ihimaera, Margaret Atwood, Philip Pullman, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gao Xingjian, Simon Armitage, Suketu Mehta, Chuck Palahniuk, Robert Harris … this list goes on forever, you’re just lucky I’m thousands of miles away from the groaning shelves of my bookcases …

    Anyway – for a more informed opinion about Austen related Facebook things, head along to Lou’s blog and read this post.

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