I spent a weekend poking everyone on Facebook and you should too

What’s the worst that can happen?


Back in the early days of Facebook, it was a dark, troubling time. You’d log in, get excited about having a notification, only to have this small but vital victory snatched from you when you discover that instead of bae liking your carefully doctored selfie, you’ve been poked by the smelly kid from your Year 9 class.

The delicate equilibrium of social media is held together by a multitude of unspoken rules and intricate conventions. Stalking “the one’s” profile pictures for the last few years: fine, welcome to the internet. Jabbing me with your virtual finger: get the fuck out, you’ve just committed the 7/7 of online etiquette.

Be honest, you'd like to be poked by me ;)

Be honest, you’d like to be poked by me 😉

Recently however, I’ve noticed something of a lull in in the poking scene on Facebook. Is it really gone for good, or just ignored and not talked about?

To find out I spent a weekend poking every single one of my Facebook friends, and my serial poking helped me see a poke for what it really is: a charming diversion from the constant stream of relationship statuses and nonsensical Britain First updates. People’s reactions also provide a fascinating insight into both how they view the poke and their relationship with you.

Based on my experience, here’s roughly how it works:

Poke someone you met while you were drunk – Get an obligatory poke back.

Poke your sibling – They’ll message you to take the piss and ask why you’re still poking, especially as you’re not even being ironic.

Poke an ex – Expect either a bitter text or, worse, stony silence.

One of the dangers of the online equivalent of spitting at someone.

Probably should have seen that reaction coming

Poke a friend who hates being poked – Be prepared for a torrent of bile to be thrown in your direction.

Poke your crush – Expect a night of soul-searching after a complete lack of reciprocation.

Poke an old childhood friend – Rebuilt a connection you thought had been lost. (This instance is the closest any of my pokes came to being the slightly weird social ice-breaker I think Facebook intended it to be).

This last poke got me talking to an old friend from primary school I’d lost contact with years ago. Our conversation may have started with him sarcastically putting down my digital desperation but it led to us reminiscing about our younger and more vulnerable years. We’ve since agreed to meet up, and it’s all thanks to the almighty poke.

On the other hand, I learned after poking someone I’ve never met but who happens to be on my friends list that they want nothing to do with me. Better late than never, I suppose.