Facebook Haute Couture

Your Facebook profile, like your wardrobe, determines how you’ll be perceived by others. Channeling Coco Chanel, Jordan Barber gives pointers on how to make your online presence absolutely fabulous.

Compared to the chaos of styles on MySpace, Facebook is like a homeowner’s association enforcing rules on lawns and house colors. Nevertheless, some people still manage to ugly up their profile, especially with the never-ending hoard of applications. A profile with a hundred add-ins is messy, and in the words of Coco Chanel, “Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.”

Facebook is not a diary; it’s more like an advertisement. It’s more important for other people to understand your profile than for you to. Think of your audience. Your profile is created with your friends in mind, but it’s also for people you want to impress. So here’s how to “dress” to impress.

The overarching goal is minimization. People are unlikely to read a trillion band names listed under musical interests. So, for all of the listing options–-books, music and movies-–less is more. List your absolute favorites, but also generalize. Don’t put ten anime movies on your list, even if you like them all. People will understand that you enjoy anime if you only recognize one or two. Facebook groups follow a similar structure. Select just a few groups that reveal your intellectual side (“I luv Pynchon”) and your funny side (“I don’t care how comfortable Crocs are, you look like a dumbass”).

As I said before, think of your audience. Your friends already know you, so they’re not going to read your profile. Rather, you should gear your profile towards those you wish to impress. You can’t have a million inside jokes taking up your quotes page. Instead, minimize the personal gimmicks to appeal to a larger audience. So, for your About Me and Quotes sections, only include things that everyone will understand. You can keep those “hilarious” quotes from your friends (this also shows that you’re social), just so long as they make sense. No more stuff like, “And then Jill said ‘blowjob Johnson!’”

Next are the applications. Again, minimize. This is critical. With too many add-ins, your Facebook profile goes from being a well-trimmed suit to something you found on the discount rack at Men’s Wearhouse. Again, Chanel said it best: “A woman is closest to being naked when she is well dressed.” So clean up those ugly applications. I know you’re sad that you’ll no longer be able to drop-kick all your friends or zombie-bite Susie. But these plug-ins aren’t useful anyway, and they only apply to people who install them. Besides, no one cares if pirates or ninjas are winning.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to discriminate. Facebook profiles are like hedges: Sometimes they need to be trimmed. This means photos. I’ve seen some terrible photos that should not belong in any public place. Feel free to un-tag yourself from inadequate pictures. Leave a couple in to show a sense of spontaneity and fun, but having too many is vulgar.

And there you have it. Just remember to minimize and diversify. It’ll enhance your own personality and increase the number of people who read about you. Resist the temptation of adding too many applications. With that, everything will feel like a cohesive whole. Remember: style remains when all the gimmicks wash away.

Jordan Barber is proud that the internet allows him to criticize, admonish, and irritate people from his own living room. And though this immense power only comes to the few, he promises to wield his hammer of judgment with a standoffish, thoughtful outlook.