Not taking Facebook seriously=less stress

I was hesitant at first to make drastic changes to my Facebook but decided it would be fun since I always wondered what would happen if I fooled around with it. To make the changes to my profile I actually didn’t think of my imagined audience, per se. I am familiar with the social norms and my goal was to break them and see the response(if any). Since people tend to take Facebook so seriously, I was surprised at how all my friends thought I was joking and liked my statuses. The changes I made were random but drastic: I changed my city to Los Angeles, changed my about me to “hotness”, made my religious views “Facebook is G-d”, took many selfy pictures that attempted to portray myself as conceited, changed my relationship status to “married”, posted often and obnoxiously, liked the Jersey Shore and used hashtags.ImageImage

Ironically I did not feel self conscience as much as I enjoyed confusing people. I thought it was funny because I did not perform myself authentically or in any other way. I believe my friends recognized this and therefore took it as a joke as well because even people I barely know know I would never post such stupid things. They probably took my profile as a theatrical taste statement, especially when I posted about owning a Juicy Couture sweatsuit in every color.

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I also rarely ever post on Facebook, and when I do it’s never to be funny. I got a more immediate and greater response through this experiment then when I post normally, which I found hysterical.  Within minutes I had people liking my posts. On the same note, those who recognized that my page wasn’t an authentic representation of myself texted me to make sure I knew what was going on. One friend thought my account was hacked while another thought my phone was stolen. I ended up having to call my friend to prove it really was me, and she mentioned she noticed how I liked the Jersey Shore which raised a red flag. This experiment is a great example of media multiplexity because those comfortable enough to text me(ie strong ties) did so offline instead of commenting directly on the post as they had other ways to confirm my identity. I found this interesting because although Facebook is understood to be accurate in most cases (especially mine), other forms of communication outweigh Facebook’s legitimacy because texting or calling goes even more directly to the source. Weak ties, however, did not take my posts seriously but also did not feel the need to alert me of the abnormal usage my profile displayed.

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In fact, one weak tie commented on the status I posted about partying after I changed my relationship status. He said he found it funny but did not go further to question my actions. Another weak tie, though, did question my status about “thirsty thursday” by asking if “it was really me”. However, because that particular status was something she would post and do, she then took it seriously by offering to come party with me. It’s easier for someone to “like” a post then to take the time to question. I found that my weak ties were the ones who liked my statuses the most though, probably for their entertainment value. Few people actually took the time to comment, because that requires more effort.

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I was surprised at how my failed social cues, like hashtags, were ignored and had no bearing on on the likes I received. I was waiting for someone to call me out on it, since it wasn’t an Instagram post where hashtags are justified because the post originates on Instagram.

This experience intensified my opinion that Facebook is so domesticated we don’t think about it until something happens that shouldn’t. For example, the fridge is a domesticated item but we don’t notice it as a technology until it fails us (ice maker not making ice on a hot day anyone?). I believe the thought of my account being hacked is along the same lines. They assume it’s me and only suspect it isn’t when something happens that’s out of the ordinary.

I was surprisingly relieved during this assignment because I didn’t have to care what people thought or carefully craft my statuses for the lowest common denominator. It made me realize how much stress and anxiety Facebook causes me on a regular basis, which is why I’ve thought of deleting it many times. Normally I over think what I post because it has to be a positive and authentic representation of myself, but when I didn’t need to worry what others thought, I was relieved.

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2 comments

  1. First off, major props to you on being able to make so many random and drastic changes to your Facebook profile (it doesn’t seem like there were that many of us who choose this blog option).

    I found it really interesting that some of your strong ties knew you well enough to immediately think that your Facebook account was actually hacked after you started making changes. Part of me definitely wished that my strong ties would have thought the same thing, but as it turns out I had fooled just about everyone I know into thinking that I really got a ridiculous tramp stamp tattoo, wanted to purchase crocs in every color and style and went out for “wasted wednesdays” all the time. Not quite sure what that says about me or how well my strong ties know me for that matter, but after this blog assignment I don’t think I care as much either because it was kind of fun.

    What stand out to me the most and it looks like you may have had a similar experience with this as well…is that all of these concepts we’ve been learning about in class were present just about everywhere in this one blog post. Boyd’s idea of media multiplexity was clearly an issue when making changes to our Facebook identities. While some people are just friends with their peers on Facebook, I’m friends with my siblings, extended family members, bosses, close friends, parents of my close friends… and probably more random categories of people that I am forgetting to mention. After my first drastic change (the tattoo), I had comments or likes from literally every one of those categories. It was context collapse galore. Like you, I hadn’t really considered my imagined audience up until that first change.

    The other thing that I found surprising was how serious people took what I was posting online, offline. The day after I had submitted my blog I saw a group of my close friends and they all wanted to see my new tattoo. When I was like “wait you really thought I’d get a tattoo like that” and they found out it wasn’t real… they were mad (but in a funny “can’t believe you pulled that off” sort of way).

    At the end of your blog I think you make a really important point in saying that we don’t always realize the stress and anxiety Facebook causes us on a regular basis until we switch things up and stop caring. Once I realized that just for this one week I wasn’t going to create an authentic representation of myself on Facebook, the task became much easier than I thought it would be. After reading your post and thinking about my own as well, I still find it strange that all of the inauthentic status updates, profile edits, default changes, and “liking” of things on Facebook proved to be less stressful then keeping up an authentic performance online.

    (Your blog was really fun to read, btw!)

  2. Thank you so much for the feedback!! I’m glad you enjoyed my experiment! The tattoo story is hilarious!! It’s so interesting how people we don’t even realize look at our profile “know” us, so to speak, and can easily recognize a change.

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