Fifteen-year-old schoolgirl Lauren Dunne's guide to the world's favourite social-network sitePossibly one of the most annoying plagues in the land, this creature simply doesn't know when to quit
With more than a billion users, Facebook has become the most popular social networking site in the world. The concept is simple: stay in contact with the people you care about, and those distant second cousins that bulk up your list of friends.
With Facebook, you can't customise your page, like MySpace, or pester your friends with irrelevant questionnaires like Bebo – yet it totally eclipses both competitors, despite its plain design and uninspired features.
We will now be embarking on an enlightening tour of the various creatures that inhabit this blue and white realm, introducing you to their habits and domains. Please buckle in tight, and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
Facebook provides almost totally uncensored freedom of expression and it takes a lot to incur the wrath of the mighty Zuckerberg team.
They allow the creation of controversial events such as "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" and intentionally offensive pages such as "The Ultimate Nikki Minaj Fanclub". Much of the attraction of Facebook is a certain degree of anonymity: you control what people see, and you can say anything you like to as many people as you want.
This, unfortunately, has created a perfect breeding ground for the internet troll, those sad little creatures who insult and antagonise from safely behind their computer screens, free from repercussions.
While they wouldn't say boo to a goose in the real world, these are the depraved souls who mock others, create posts and pictures designed to offend and accuse those foolish enough to challenge them of being unable to handle their edgy, unbridled comedy.
It's best to ignore them and leave them to die off.
Facebook tells a fairytale of interesting lives and absorbing people, each more surprising than the last. That guy across the street – when did he get that Lamborghini? Is your aunt's social life really that exciting?
Facebook lets us choose how the world sees us, and rather than face the crippling truth, many choose to portray themselves as richer, better looking and more popular than they really are.
This inevitably leads to an ongoing competition between users, all trying to score points by demonstrating the superior awesomeness of their own lives.
It's a sad little war that has no winners, leaving only tears and inferiority complexes in its wake.
The Dark Lords
For shameless exaggeration, however, nothing can hold a candle to the anti-culture that has cropped up in every aspect of the site. Not content with being part of the mainstream, these special snowflakes walk a different path, a darker path.
Rather than shameless hyperbole, their walls are covered with song lyrics, diagnoses of various horrible illnesses and emotions so bleak that to view them is to cry.
Misunderstood by all, they have come to the conclusion that the vague dissatisfaction they feel with their lives constitutes a crippling depression, and really the only logical step is to clog up your newsfeed with that knowledge.
They crave attention and the validation of their claims, exhibitionists to the very end. No detail of their personal lives is sacred, oversharing being a typical characteristic. Don't waste your sympathy or give them pep talks – you'll only be ruining their bad mood.
The Magical Fairies
Ah, the most delicate and ethereal of creatures, the stuff of children's tales and Halloween costumes. These benevolent creatures drift from status to status, wall to wall, sprinkling their kind words, congratulations and encouragement like so much proverbial glitter.
Peppered with hearts and kisses, their messages really are enough to brighten your day – until you hear that your friends have received the exact same one. For this being holds a dark secret: pretty much anything it has to say is insincere and probably mocking.
It's impossible to know when these people are being genuine. They'll tell you how nice you look in your profile picture one minute and be off laughing at it with their friends the next.
Overly polite and gentle, they befriend the exceptionally trusting, lonely dregs of society only to tear them down behind their backs. A dangerous beast that makes a terrible enemy, and no friend at all. Approach with extreme caution and a loaded gun.
The Fan Individual
Contrary to stereotypes, it's not just the female of the species that is dangerous. While the male may seek to loudly sing the praises of slightly more masculine subjects, nobody outside the herd has any interest in their sermons on the greatness of some football club, fancy car or performer.
Its female counter-part is generally more attracted to books, movies and celebrities, although there are exceptions on both sides.
It's really all irrelevant, as not a single incident has been recorded in which a member of the species has supported anything with even a wisp of substance. Their characteristic chattering noise is incomprehensible even to experts, but they do seem to have established some form of communication, as they routinely form groups united by a common, if ludicrous interest.
While not overtly dangerous, they can be roused to extreme aggression by those daring to insult the object of their worship, their chatter inducing severe headaches in those exposed for too long.
The Nigerian Prince
While these common creatures wish a great deal of harm on those foolish enough to engage with them, they are generally only dangerous to the exceptionally stupid.
Possessing a uniquely mournful cry, they mainly bewail tragic personal circumstances that robbed them of vast wealth. If you, kind stranger, would just be so considerate as to transfer to them a measly few thousand quid, they would pay you back ten times over. They promise great riches to those bewitched by their siren call, which is fortunately (for us) immensely sinister and unappealing.
An emergency response unit was set up by the FTPA (Facebook Tourist Protection Agency) against the creatures, but funding was cut on the basis that anyone idiotic enough to fall into their trap was merely a victim of natural selection and deserved what they got.
The Grim Reaper
A dark, villainous curse hangs over Facebook's vast cerulean plains. In a land populated by such magical creatures as we have seen today, it will be perhaps unsurprising for you to learn that the boundary between this dimension and others is somewhat blurred. For there resides, in the dark, dangerous realm of comment sections, those who are said to converse with spirits.
Chilling to the ear are their tales, rendered immortal by shaking voices retelling the saga in breathless, terrified tones. Displease them, and a curse shall be unleashed! Using their command of the undead, they proceed to dramatically recount the (possibly even half-true) tale of a murdered child, abused wife, or executed criminal, all returned from the grave to punish humanity for their sins.
By extension of the Reaper's powers, it will be at your bed tonight at 2am, armed with a hatchet.
What's that? You beg for mercy? It won't be easy. You, weakling, must copy and paste this tale to 10 other statuses or pictures, spreading the curse to others to save yourself. Fail to do so and the consequences will be terrifying.
Possibly one of the most annoying plagues in the land, this creature simply doesn't know when to quit. Loathed by all, they are sneered at and abused wherever they spread their message of fear, yet never cease their efforts to plague the maximum amount of people possible.
Attempts to cull members of the population have been futile, but while they seem threatening, in reality these creatures have absolutely no power to cause you harm – remember, they're more afraid of you than you are of them.
This concludes our tour of the wild and wonderful realm of Facebook. It may surprise you to learn that people actually choose to spend their time here – it's the world's most popular tourist destination! We hope you've enjoyed the ride. Exit by logging off.