An introduction to Facebook

Don’t look at me like that. I have to wear these shades because I’m a visionary

Facebook is the de facto 51st American state – and in some ways the most ‘American’ of all. Millions of people visit the state every day, and many spend enough meaningful time in its environment to be said to live there. It achieves one of the USA’s chief aims by being global, and has achieved this without overt, directly-attributable, foreign-interference bloodshed.

The language of Facebook is not English but American – it was arrived at by a gradual process of mixing foreign accents, words and phrases, and was present at the birth of social media, fully-formed, chewing gum and waitin’ for ya.

While every other state – and indeed almost every other country – relies on traditional dictionaries to verify expressions, spellings and pronunciations, the state of Facebook has as its linguistic basis the complete collection of Friends videos. Therefore when, for instance, expressing the feeling of being heartwarmingly touched by something, it is not acceptable to say “Aaaahhhh!”, as the British do. Friends/Facebook American (FFA) doesn’t permit that. The official expression is “Awwwww!”

Similarly, if something makes you pull a face and utter a disapproving sound, it’s not disgusting but “gross” and the word to use is not “Yuk!” or even “Bleaughhh!” but “Ewww.”

Terms of affection have obviously come a long way since the British-influenced black-and-white era of calling someone “Love” or (heaven forbid) “Darling”. Similarly, regional variants such as “sweetheart”, “chuck”, “duck”, “hen” and particularly “chicken” should be avoided.

If you want to be taken seriously in the 21st century state that is Facebook, you should address people as “Hun” or “Babes”. No one knows why babes is plural, it just is.

brief 2
App me, hun, yeah?


Important note: You do not have to know or fancy the person you’re calling Hun. It’s short for honey, which Americans will use to address just about anyone apart from police officers and tax inspectors, and for security reasons, one should be wary of having such people as FB friends.

Men may address other men as “bro”. If this sounds too young African-American for you, do not resort to non-American forms such as ‘mate’, ‘chum’, ‘pal’ and ‘cobber’. The word is “buddy”.

Although an abbreviation of brother, “Bro” is not an indication of any relationship in family terms, but a shared ideology which need extend no further than the topic under discussion. Thus someone can be your “bro” the very first time you meet him as long as you have enough in common (a shared interest in some obscure, elitist strain of dance music, for instance, can make someone your temporary and highly specific “bro”. If you’re both into knitting, that can do it too).

It is recommended that non-American Facebook users undertake a crash course in Friends before venturing onto Facebook for the first time. This will equip them with basic grammatical requirements for participants’ main interest, which is, as in pop music, romantic/sexual relationships. This is not known as “going out with” someone, but “dating”.

One day, my friends, we will be a thing of the past. But our language will live on…

Vocabulary and idioms are crucial here, such as the fact that nobody “chats anybody up” anymore. You “hit on” people. Similarly, “cheating”, which used to mean using unfair methods to achieve good results in examinations etc, has now widened its scope considerably, replacing the outdated concept of “being unfaithful” to one’s spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend.

One side effect of “cheating” on someone is the tendency to feel bad about it (particularly if caught). This should not be expressed as “feeling guilty”, but as “being on like a guilt trip”.

N.B. (fancy Latin abbreviation meaning ‘nota bene’, which in turn means ‘take note’, or perhaps ‘dig this’) Friends finished in 2004 and there are inevitably many words and expressions which came after it, so it is not completely up to date. However, in the absence of an all-encompassing alternative, updates can be gleaned from more recent sitcoms such as Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory (but beware the latter’s undercurrent of intellectualism). Any 21st century American film with a knowing, snappy title (His Best Friend’s Girl, MILFs and Filth, Ride my Llama) will also do.

CONCLUSION: The general purpose of speaking Friends/FacebookAmerican is to make uncool nationalities such as British, Australian, Indian etc. sound like they are part of the baseball cap-wearing world population. Failure to adapt in this way can lead to being “unfriended” (an action previously restricted to school playgrounds and abandoned at the age of 10) and thus missing out on large quantities of inanity.

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