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.
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.
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:
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.(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:
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.
And, “Going to X!” “At X!” “Leaving X!” I decided to go one step further into the realm of emo.
0 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.)
0 Likes. 1 Comment from a weak tie.
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:
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:
His 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.