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10 Facebook Fouls

Navigating the social waters of high school was no cruise. Friendship dramas, public humiliation, unfounded rumors.

Good thing that's over. Oh, wait. Nope. It's back. Facebook is a virtual high school of grown-ups engaging in the same behavior they were years ago. So, how do you tell your so-called "friends" to quit their annoying behavior without totally offending them? You know, after they have offended you?

Let me do it for you. A letter to my Facebook friends:

Dear Friends,

Facebook is a social network where we get to stay in touch, post photos, laugh, invite each other to events and so much more. But what it's not, and what it should never be, is a place for any of these things:

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Facebook Foul #1: TMI status updates and photos. Sorry, but no one wants to see a picture of your child being potty trained or hear about his first bowel movement no matter how much work it took to accomplish it. I have kids. I get that it was a lot of work. The fact that you had sex last night or just shaved your husband's back are also clear examples of over-sharing.

Facebook Foul #3: Coercing a friend to "friend" your child. There's a rock, and a hard place, and then there's you. Do my friends not see what I post on my wall? If I ignore the request, it's awkward. If I friend the kid, it's awkward. Every time I post now, I have this little (kid's) voice in my head whining, "Is this kid-appropriate, Megan? Well, is it?"

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Facebook Foul #4: Cryptic status updates. Right after I post something on my wall, up pops a friend's status update: "Some people sure think a lot of themselves." Was that intended for me? Even worse is when a friend posts about being down and out or depressed and I inquire to see if she is OK. If the reply is, "Don't worry about it, I'll get over it," that's confusing. So, you just posted a cry for help, but none of your 340 Facebook friends should pay any attention? Here's a 21st century twist on the old saying: "If you don't have anything nice—or clear—to say, don't post it on the Internet at all."

Someone unfriended you? OK. It stinks. But frankly, the more noise you make about it, the more inclined we are to understand why.

Facebook Foul #5: Making a big, public deal about being unfriended or unfriending someone. Remember, no matter how similar it seems, Facebook is not, in fact, high school. The more adults drag each other's names through the mud online, the uglier it makes them look. Better to just accept the loss or make the cut quietly and graciously. If you don't want that person as a Facebook friend anymore, fine. No need to broadcast it—in fact, we are unlikely to notice and even less likely to care. Someone unfriended you? OK. It stinks. But frankly, the more noise you make about it, the more inclined we are to understand why.

Facebook Foul #6: Status-jacking a friend's update. You boast about your child's awesome achievement on Facebook, and thrown in there with all of the "That's awesome!" and "How cool" comments is someone's display of one-upmanship, reminding you how her child did something even better. Not cool. Get your own status update, friend. They're free.

Facebook foul #7: Using text abbreviations on status updates. This is not a text message, and we are not limited to Twitter's 140 characters, so it's OK to spell out everything. Otherwise, it's like reading code.

IDK, c u B4 the movie. Btw, bring $$. lol. ;)

I beg your pardon? How often do we tell our kids to "use your words?" Use yours on Facebook. We have the room.

Abraham Lincoln did not say something clever about the Internet. Think about it. (I'll wait.) Yet people shared the quote hundreds of times over.

Facebook Foul #8: Changing your relationship status too frequently. When I see someone go from "married" to "it's complicated" or "single," the first thing I think is, Whoa. Because, you know, that's a big deal. Yet there are some people who change their relationship status on Facebook on a weekly basis. Is your relationship really fluctuating that much, or are you switching your status based on your current mood? "Oh, he forgot to take out the trash ... IT'S SO COMPLICATED THIS MARRIAGE!"

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Facebook Foul #9: Blindly passing on unverified information. Abraham Lincoln did not say something clever about the Internet. Think about it. (I'll wait.) Yet people shared the quote hundreds of times over. Whether it's breaking news of a celebrity's death or a quote from someone famous, checking to see if it is real or not before sharing is the difference between getting a few "likes" and having to apologize later. Just ask Jon Bon Jovi ... who is still alive, by the way.

Facebook Foul #10: A joint Facebook account with your significant other. Facebook is still free, no matter what you have read courtesy of someone who has blindly passed along unverified information. And it's just awkward to be friends with JohnandStacy Smith. Who gets the birthday notification? Whose birthday do we forget because Facebook has no way of reminding us? Which one of you is the man behind the curtain at any given point? It's just too confusing. Can I be honest? It also comes across as a little co-dependent.

I hope we can still be buds.

Sincerely,

Your (most-likely former) Facebook Friend

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