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Human User Manual: Why Everyone Needs a Human Instruction Manual

We are entering into an age of radical transparency. An entire generation is growing up with their lives publicly displayed (in albeit varying degrees) on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. From baby photos posted to Flickr and Facebook to high school checkins on Foursquare, wedding announcements on YouTube, and even funeral announcements on Twitter, it is now possible to have one's entire life tracked and displayed for all to see.

While some voice serious concerns regarding privacy, I am an avid advocate of letting it all hang out. Perhaps this is because I see the world from more of an economic perspective than an emotional perspective. As I see it, secrets lead to flawed systems. Lacking transparency has resulted in large-scale disasters ranging from economic meltdowns tohighly personal and intimate tragedies such as failed relationships (don't believe me? Hello Romeo & Juliet!).

Face it. Honesty is the best policy.

Just think how much easier life would be if we were really frank with each other. If we took efforts to actually understand our friends- how they work and think - and to make ourselves more comprehendible in turn.

It used to be pretty hard to do this, but because modern technology enables so much of one's life to be documented and publicly displayed, personal transparency is within our reach. I say we accelerate this openness. Each person ought to create his or her own human instruction manual or FAQ page.

Man needs a manual.

Man needs a manual.

Whaaaat? A user manual for PEOPLE?

Yeah! Why not? Wouldn't it be nice if each human came with a user manual, or at least a FAQ page?

These pages could be tastefully tucked in to any social media profile or placed anywhere so as to be accessible to anyone who might appreciate the quick reference. They don't have to be complex or exhaustive- as it turns out, we're not so complicated!

As something of a social retard, I would die to be able to pull up a user manual on good friends, family, and new acquaintances. So I thought I might lead by example with the desperate hope that others might create their own. I created a personal user manual and FAQ page in the form of a note attached to my Facebook profile. It took all of fifteen minutes. And now anyone (because my profile is entirely open) will be able to tell when I am stressed, why I am avoiding them, and where I got those cute knee-high boots.

You might get along with friends, family, and coworkers better if you understood how they worked- and if they understood you

You might get along with friends, family, and coworkers better if you understood how they worked- and if they understood you

Essential Elements of a Human User Manual

In my opinion, a human instruction manual should consist of the following elements:

  • Top frequently asked questions
  • FAQ on your character
  • FAQ on how to interpret your typical behavior

And if you're extra ballsy or stupid, you might also include

  • FAQ on how to manipulate you (e.g. how to make you angry / happy / sad / embarrassed / impressed, etc.)

These extra tips add that bit of human user manual flare that typical FAQ will not provide and take the age of radical transparency to a new level. Oooooh- futuristic-shiny!

Human user manuals are pretty simple.  Turns out there's not a lot to us.

Human user manuals are pretty simple. Turns out there's not a lot to us.

The FAQ Element

Each person is unique, and comes with a unique set of curiosities. Surely there are certain questions you get asked on a regular basis that don't get asked of other people. Here are some examples:

  • Where did you get that nose job?
  • Who taught you to punch like that?
  • Is that skin condition contagious?
  • Who are you wearing?
  • etc...

These questions address issues other than common likes, religious/political affiliations, and other personality elements that are already commonly covered on social media profiles.

Assembling and answering the questions you are most frequently asked is surprisingly easy, as you're asked them all the time (this is exactly why it's a good idea to post answers to these questions in a public place- it saves you time). The top FAQ I included in my user manual mostly pertain to the source of various accessories I frequently wear, strange eating habits, and social behavior.

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We may not be robots, but we can still offer some useful instructions

We may not be robots, but we can still offer some useful instructions

Additional User Manual Elements

In addition to answering FAQ, I recommend adding to your human instruction manual some helpful tips on how to best engage with you.

These can be as simple and friendly as some guidelines on how best to reach you and contact you, or as intimate as tips on how to scare, embarrass, and manipulate you.

It is nice to add these features to one's user manual as one cannot "use" two people the same way at all. While complimenting one person is the fastest way to gain his trust, it may be the quickest way to gain another's distrust. Letting people know the quickest way to piss you off or gain your respect helps to ensure that a potential friendship is not lost due to someone who means well inadvertently shooting your budding relationship to Hell.

One might argue that one of the most enjoyable aspects of getting to know one involves discovering these things on one's own. I do admit that this is a fun process, but I would much rather have the opportunity to hit it off with someone than to spend weeks, months, and even years trying to figure out just what I'm doing wrong and what I'm doing right.

Even if you do know these basic things about someone, there is still a TON yet to be discovered. Believe me.


There are three primary benefits of creating your own human user manual are as follows:

  1. Your friends might create their own: Thus making your life easier!
  2. Your friends might use you better: Because they actually know what makes you tick!
  3. You learn a bit more about yourself: Forcing yourself to answer these questions forces you to learn more about yourself.


The drawbacks of creating your own human instruction manual are as follows:

  1. If you share sensitive information that you don't want other people to know, they'll know it. And you're an idiot.
  2. If you tell people how to make you scared / angry / pissed / embarrassed / uncomfortable, well, then people know how to do that. Very easily.

But here's the thing. You don't have to share sensitive information or your weaknesses. It's that simple.


Aha!! Yes! There are secret benefits to the drawbacks of even sharing sensitive and private information!

If you publicly share the things that scare you or make you angry, you will know who is a total asshole because they've done something in an obvious effort to make you scared / angry / something else crummy. You'll know it was not an honest mistake. And for this reason, you'll be able to exact appropriate revenge.

What's more, admitting these weaknesses about yourself allows you have an easier go at overcoming them.


Will You? Or Won't You?

I hope you've realized, by this point, that we all need to come with instruction manuals (or FAQ pages, at least).

They make life easier. They make getting to know other people easier. They save you from potentially disastrous social mistakes. They can help your friends better understand you. They're modern!

They're easy to make and add to a social media profile or personal website. They can be simple or detailed. Formal or intimate. Illustrated or text-only.

So will you? Or won't you?

Share your thoughts in the poll to the left, and if you're really cool, leave a comment!


Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 09, 2012:

Hey Joel!

What I did was cover things that I frequently have to explain, since those details deviate from what people would expect / have resulted in misunderstandings in the past. Since everyone has different personal details that lead to such misunderstandings, it can be hard to develop a template, but what I recommend doing is starting with a list of your own personal FAQ and going forward from there :D

Joel Zaslofsky on January 07, 2012:

Hey Simone,

This is a pretty awesome article you've put out there. I'm in the process of making a template for a "Personal User Guide" for myself and others. Do you know people who have created a template for other people to fill out? If so, can you (or anyone else in your community reading this) point me to them?

Keep rockin',


Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 11, 2011:

Heya lord de cross! I'm a meat popsicle, which I think explains it all. And I'll have a look at the Hub!

Joseph De Cross from New York on August 11, 2011:

Hi Simone! Lol are you Latina? or Philipino? Just wondering where your wit and fun spirit comes from. Can you comment on my last hub' HUBPAGES 20 YEARS LATER. Thanks! happy hubbing!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 04, 2011:

Mmm. Foot.

Knightheart from MIssouri, USA on May 04, 2011:

All I can add is this: Do these books come with diagrams? Kind of hard to read when your foot is stuck in your mouth, don't you agree? :)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 03, 2011:

I found via trial and error that quirky lives were more entertaining to live. Dunno 'bout dem brains though. I also found via trial and error that ignorance is bliss, and subsequently ceased all attempts to retain knowledge.

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on May 03, 2011:

Oh you are truly quirky! Very creative and well thought out Hub. You've got a big ol' brain in there.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 03, 2011:

Thanks David Warren! I do suppose there is much more chaff floating around on Facebook, but I still find it rather fascinating- though obviously HubPages offers much better reading material!

Good point, CMHypno. These things would only work if they're honest and practical. Self aggrandizement is fun, but not so functional :D

And DO make one, thougtforce! It's so much fun! And maybe it'll convince OTHERS to make one, too! Hehehehehehehe

I love that, Glenn Stok! What a great ice breaker. And how funny it would be if one asked someone if they came with an instruction manual... and they said yes! And yeah, I'm definitely not kidding about the whole learing-about-oneself-when-writing-one's-own-user-manual thing - I realized many things about myself when I wrote mine... among other revelations was the one that I'm actually quite simple!

Oooooh Jeannieinabottle! That's tricky! Though as soon as people understand that your information is not all correct, they'll throw out the manual ;)

And LOL lukecore! Maybe so. And by the standards of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, I should be destroyed.

Luke Chant from Manchester on May 03, 2011:

By the standards of Haynes manuals I think I'm probably ready for scrappage.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on May 02, 2011:

Yes, I agree with you. We do need instruction manuals. I find people to be very complex sometimes and this would help. Of course, if I wrote my own manual I would probably try to confuse readers and write random incorrect information about myself just to keep people on their toes. Sometimes it is fun to keep people guessing.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on May 02, 2011:

This was great! I was lol when I read the part about the personal FAQ's. A while back I wrote a Book Review Hub on a Human User's Manual that I had found. But you definitely added a new twist to the idea with one that's more personal.

You gave me an idea of a question to ask people I meet for the fist time... "Do you come with an instruction manual? This might be especially useful when you find yourself dealing with difficult people. Just ask them that. If nothing else, it might just lighten an awkward moment.

I also like the 3rd benefit you mentioned. I'll have to try that. Making the effort to write our own user's manual can definitely help us understand ourselves better. I know many people who have never "discovered" themselves. They just flow through life aimlessly. I feel this can help them. It doesn't need to be shared. It can be written simply as a project for self examination.

Great work Simone, I voted up.

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on May 01, 2011:

I like instruction manuals that are available on other more technical things, so I guess I would like one on humans too:) It would be so practical and there would be fewer misunderstandings. Great suggestions and I will think more about creating one! Thanks for the tips! Tina

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on May 01, 2011:

Interesting hub Simone but being a reserved Brit, making a user manual isn't really my thing, and I know too many people who would not be honest and just turn it into more of a PR 'ain't I just wonderful' kind of document.

But I will have to go and check out your Facebook page!!!

David Warren from Nevada and Puerto Vallarta on April 30, 2011:

Great hub Simone! I recently deleted my Facebook account because I got tired of the meaningless rhetoric on there. I do however open up my life continuously here on Hub Pages. This seems, to me anyway, like the adult version of Facebook.Anyway beforeI start to ramble, as always, Great Hub, and thank you!

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