I Ate A Yogurt And No One Cared!

I know I might come off as somewhat pretentious with what I’m about to say in the following blog post, but in full disclosure, I think my Facebook statuses are pretty great.

I don’t think they’re posted too often (re: over 3 a day, within one or two hours of each other), and they’re usually (hopefully) entertaining in some way.  Even if someone thought I posted a lot (which people do), they don’t say I’m clogging their newsfeeds with useless information.  A girl from my community here at NYU who I’m not even close with told me I should be a comedy writer because my statuses were “just soooo funny!” (whether she was tipsy or not, Compliment Accepted).

The content of my status updates range from links to Buzzfeed articles I found amusing or hilarious to YouTube videos of dogs being/doing just about anything to (hopefully) witty comments I make or I hear someone else make.  Similar to the findings of Marwick and boyd, I write statuses to my ideal audience of intelligent people who appreciate wit, sarcasm, and puppies.

Image  Image

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These status updates generally get likes from my close friends, my extended network of friends (people I see around a lot/used to work with/are my brother’s friends turned my friends), people from classes and people from high school.  The majority of likes I normally get stem from my close friends, extended network of friends.

‘Likes’ I receive from those I share only weak ties with mean more to me than those I receive from strong ties, however.  If someone I hardly know–say, a kid from a creative writing class–makes the effort to ‘like’ my status, I take it to mean that they don’t feel awkward or uncomfortable ‘liking’ it because the content is solid enough to surpass any feeling of spying or weirdness. It translates as a stamp of validation and truly feels as if I’m standing at a microphone and speaking to a crowd of people who will laugh if they like my jokes and be silent and awkward when they don’t.  Similar to a comedian trashing a failed joke, if a status that was meant to be funny gets very few likes, I’ll shut it down and delete it.  I don’t want to embarrass myself and I want to keep up the (hopefully successful) witty persona I’ve got going on Facebook.

If I were to classify my taste statement according to Liu, I would put my profile down as a mix of Prestigious and Differentiated.  Prestige, because I seem to always try to be “‘dressed to impress'” and I attempt to be coherent; my statuses use proper grammar and spelling except when they are obviously exaggerating or mocking something, like floods of other people’s sports related statuses.  Differentiated, because, well…”owner of profile…seemed interested in expressing how utterly unique…he or she was” (Liu 263).  Instead of showing differentiation from my friends via my likes and dislikes, I try to show differentiation with level of humor.

SO. When it came time to change my status update–content AND style–it pained me.  Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun coming up with them (with some help from my roommates), but still.

I became that annoying girl who tells you how her day is going through song quotes and has awful days but tells you not to ask about them. I became the girl to give updates on the most pointless things in her life. I became that girl on Facebook everyone just wants to shut up.

It started Monday night.

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Note the lowercase letters, no punctuation, still correct spelling because it would be too obvious otherwise.  I still got likes from two good friends and Aliza (who knew about the assignment). The first like I got, however, was from a kid from high school I wasn’t close with and with whom I’ve hardly spoken to since graduating.

Conversely, shortly after posting, one of my best friends from high school texted me this in confusion:

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Things like this kept happening throughout Monday night and all of Tuesday.  The more frequently I posted, the fewer ‘likes’ and comments I got, if any, and the likes weren’t from all the usual suspects.  I also got a few more confused texts.Image(Note: I discounted Aliza‘s likes because A) she likes everything and B) she’s in this class.)

Fewer likes, fewer comments…the Facebook equivalent of this.  The silence just yelled that no one cared, which was confirmed by my friend, Hannah, when I had lunch with her Tuesday.  Her grievances were with these status updates from the night before and the morning of:

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In her words,

Who cares? Just…who cares?

If you were anyone else right now, I would hate you. What’s going on?

She, however, was one of few who confronted me about it.  Most friends asked Aliza if it was really me making the statuses.  Many were convinced it couldn’t be.

After a few silly statuses like the ones above, this one (liked by someone I haven’t seen or interacted with since 2010):Image

And, “Going to X!” “At X!” “Leaving X!” I decided to go one step further into the realm of emo.

Image0 likes. 0 Comments.

Image0 Likes. 1 Comment from a friend I keep in touch with from elementary school. (I think she must have friends from the high school she went to who make these statuses seriously, hence her serious response. None of the friends I went to school with in high school or college commented.)

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0 Likes. 1 Comment from a weak tie. Image

8 Likes. 1 Comment continuing the song. The ‘likes’ were mostly due to the Death Cab for Cutie lyric. Most ‘likes’ came from those I share only weak ties with, but one was from my close friend of 6 years. I would have thought she knew me better than to post song lyrics with tildas. And she didn’t even text me to see if I was mentally stable, like others did:

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Towards the end of Tuesday, a guy from high school who rarely, if ever, posts on my wall or comments on my statuses asked me this:

ImageHis comment is solely responsible for making me aware of my invisible audience and aware of the scope of my invisible audience and how people know what I type and what I update about even though they never commented or liked a previous status.

Over the course of 24 hours, I could feel myself being judged over who was liking my statuses now versus before my experiment. I feel as though my display of connections changed drastically.  Instead of looking like the cool kid because the kids I thought were cool from my creative writing classes were liking my statuses, I felt like the nerd the cool kids looked down on, based on the lack of likes and the “*hug*” and “Hang in there” comments.  (More full disclosure, and not one I’m proud of: I would be one to look negatively on someone with statuses like my experimental ones and I would judge the person further based on the comments and commentators that followed. =\ ) (I never said I was a great person) (Sorry, guys) (Otherwise I’m really nice!)

It was a relief to come clean Tuesday night.

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7 comments

  1. brittawelch · · Reply

    This was such an interesting post to read because I so often see people I don’t even know very well posting meaningless statuses, just screaming for attention. It just goes to show, when you step outside your normal online persona, people really notice.
    This reminded me of the Marwick and boyd article, “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience.” You definitely have an audience that you are posting for and they know what to expect from you. Conversely, you know how to meet the expectations of your followers, or in this case Facebook friends. When you started being different, they didn’t know what to do and they stopped “liking” your statuses.
    You seem to construct your normal posts based on an “imagined audience,” yet when you changed your posting style there were random people who came out of the woodwork to like your posts, which shows that your “actual audience” consists of an array of people outside the imagined audience. I wonder what would’ve happened if you had kept this going for longer!

  2. Ha, part of me really wanted to because my roommates and I were having a fun time coming up with more inane statuses than were necessary.

  3. I am quite impressed by the way you structured this post, I think your experimentation process was well implemented, and I love how you displayed the results through your snap shots! I find it pretty incredible how you were able to numerically track the decrementing likes and comments.

    I am not even surprised that some of your good friends liked your statuses that were clearly indicating your “depressed” state. To me, it almost seems that liking functionality on facebook is a way for users to reach out without having to make any real effort or jeopardize their own identity.

    I think most significantly your experiment demonstrates how our imagined audience may in actuality be very misaligned with our actual audience. I am curious as to how this controlled experiment would have played out twitter.

  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog post. We all definitely have that Facebook friend that just can’t stop themselves from posting every aspect of their life to their Facebook, even though most of their friends don’t want to read every aspect of their day. I think this experiment shows that the identity that you perform is generally consistent, since your friends all knew that these statuses didn’t jive with your normal persona. I also agree that it’s a great example of context collapse since all of your random weak ties liked and commented on your statuses.

    I also found it interesting that nobody liked or commented on your “don’t ask” post. There’s nothing I hate more than that sort of “attention-grabbing” post, and I think it speaks to the idea that when people post these statuses with an imagined audience of sympathetic onlookers, they often don’t receive the intended response. Therefore, their imagined audience is not in line with those that actually view their post.

    I think it would be interesting to conduct this type of experiment in relation to the election. People often post status after status, or tweet after tweet expressing their political views, when often, nobody cares! Fortunately, Buzzfeed provides us with a way to combat these annoying friends (http://www.buzzfeed.com/katienotopoulos/how-to-deal-with-your-annoying-facebook-friends-wh).

    I also agree with Kristin that it would be interesting to observe this sort of experiment on Twitter because with only 140 character tweets, it is a much different type of identity that you craft in comparison to your elongated Facebook profile.

  5. First of all, props to you for being so brave and acting out that-annoying-girl on facebook! It was a very interesting post to read because your experiment had proved that we all post based on our imagined audience and that the imagined audience and the actual audience do not necessarily match—there are so many more people than we think are watching us, like that high school kid who left you a wall post.
    Also, it was interesting how some of your close friends used media multiplexity (sending you texts to ask you if you were okay or not), and some asked your friend to check up on you. Do you think they were taking this persona change seriously, and that’s why they did not confront you directly? Or were they not taking this seriously enough to make efforts to ask you directly?
    It seems like you get a lot of feedback from your friends, or classmates in general, but not necessarily from your family members. Is that because you did not accept friend requests from your relatives? Or did you just block them to see these “that girl” statuses so they would not worry about your mental health. I am just curious, because if your family members had seen your persona change, they would’ve still give you “likes” and comments to show that they care.
    P.S. I loved all of your hyperlinks!:D So funny!

  6. The only family member of mine that can see my whole profile is my brother, who when I revealed the experiment, jokingly called me a manipulative bitch. Random cousins, aunts and uncles are on limited profiles so that they never see status updates (among other things). My parents don’t use social media at all.

  7. This was so funny! I love how you kept tabs on the response as it happened and noted how specific people reacted as opposed to just calling them a weak or strong tie. Props to you for being “that” girl on Facebook. I completely agree with Kristin that sometimes we confuse our imagined audience with our actual audience. Often the people we want looking at our profile don’t because they feel no need while other randoms do for entertainment purposes. Either way, I’m sure it’s something we’ll keep in mind for the future!

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