How to explain that you’ve locked down your Facebook

A guide for people who do not prefer honesty

I recently posted an article on the IHMMB Life & Style Blog called “How to set your privacy settings on Facebook” because it seemed to be a question that came up a lot on the IHMMB forums. There are a lot of people one feels obligated to friend; coworkers, old high school friends, your mom, but one doesn’t necessarily want them to be privy to everything you post on Facebook. Take the guy fired because of his post on Facebook, I bet he wishes he’d changed his privacy settings.

The problem is, how to explain to your new friends why you never post anything on Facebook. Good thing for you I am very skilled at coming up with excuses and as my resolution for 2009 is to be more helpful, I am going to share them with you.

Plan A – Don’t Volunteer, Act Busy

This is the simplest plan, say nothing, hope nobody notices and if asked, say that you’ve been very busy and haven’t looked at the thing since you set it up. This works best if they know none of the same people you do. You must be careful to ignore everything they do, don’t accept any of their virtual beers or comment on anything. If they tell you something you read on Facebook you must act surprised.

Please bear in mind if this is a coworker, you will probably have to stop checking into Facebook all of the time at work, lest they catch you.

With any luck they’ll either be so busy with all of their Facebook friends they won’t notice your absense (how insulting!) or they’ll grow bored with it and stop logging in.

Plan B – Make up a story

If you feel you must explain why you appear to never post on Facebook, feel free to make something up. Here are a few plausible stories:

  • Thinking about looking for a new job soon, concerned about employers checking social networking sites.
  • Your spouse/parents/best friend are privacy freaks and nagged you until you promised to stop.
  • Your employer blocked Facebook and evenings and weekends are family time.
  • All your free time is now devoted to learning how to knit/play guitar/Jesus.

Plan C – Make up a really big story

Let’s face it plausible stories usually have a plausible counterarguement and the last thing you want to do is engage. This is when a big story is called for. Big stories work best when you pepper them with a few actual facts. Here is a sample, feel free to adapt it to your own use.

Dear Mom,

Have you heard about the Koobface virus on Facebook? I heard it was only a trial run and that the next time they are going to invent a new virus that will steal all the pictures on your computer and post them on the internet. ALL OF THE PICTURES. And then they will email the link to everyone in your address book so they will see ALL OF YOUR PICTURES, even the ones where you didn’t quite manage to crop out your jelly stained fridge and the ones the kids took of you sleeping in your ratty sweats, double chins and all. And they will hold them ransom until you wire them $100. Can you believe people these days? They don’t want to work for a living, that’s their problem. They want everything handed to them. I’m glad you didn’t raise me like that.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel like maybe it’s not a good idea for me to be using the internet anymore. Oh yeah, it was fun while it lasted, but think of all we’ve lost. The long letters written on cheerful stationary. Remember how much fun it was to pick out stationary? You could get Garfield on it, or butterflies or even ponies and you could write in all sorts of fun colors and draw little pictures in the margins. I miss that.

So, I’m leaving my profile up, because I’ve heard that Nigerian identity theives will go through the phone book and look for Facebook profiles and if they don’t find one, they’ll make up a fake one and try to use that to trap unwitting people who think they are friending their friend, but really they are friending some scammer from halfway around the world. I don’t want that to happen to the people I love, so I’ll leave up my profile and I’ll keep my 348 friends so they won’t get fooled into friending a fake me, but I’m going to stop posting and I’m going to take everything down.

By the way, I’ve already talked to my sister and my cousins and all your friend’s kids, so you don’t have to warn them, they already know. They agreed with me, and they are going to do the same thing. I know you’re a smart woman, mom, so I’m going to leave it up to you, whether you want to continue with the Facebooking or not, but I hope you’ll be careful.



PS Do you still have Garfield checks? I really like those Garfield checks. You should send me one. It makes me smile the way you put a little smiley face in the memo line.

Plan D – Only for the desparate

Tell the truth. Mom, I friended you because you gave birth to me and all, but I’m really uncomfortable with you popping in and giving your two cents on everything. When my status is “yawn, when is work over?” it makes me feel dismissed when you tell me I should go to bed early and my employers aren’t paying me to whine. Old high school boyfriend, I only friended you to see what you are up to and since it’s really boring I feel awkward knowing that you are probably snickering at how boring my life is even though I don’t know who you think you are to judge with your combover and I am a pen salesman style moustache. Neighbor lady, I accidently sent you that invitation, it’s bad enough I have to share literal space with you, please stop invading my virtual space, too.

I guess that could work for some people. Not me, but some people.

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