Sunday, September 12, 2010

Biting the Hand That Feeds Me

Look, I’m the first to admit that I probably spend too much time on Facebook. I’m not sure why I do, but there you go. On the one hand, I can rationalize and say that for a fiction writer, Facebook provides tremendous insight into people’s quirks and personalities, which I can then use to help develop richer, more three-dimensional characters in my work. On the other hand, I can admit that that is a steaming load of crap. Virtually every one of my status updates has been a throwaway thought, and I’d say that description applies to approximately 99 percent of all Facebook updates that have ever been posted.

Collectively, there is comfort in seeing tangible evidence that your friends’ lives are not all that different than yours. But is that really all that surprising? That’s probably why you were friends (in the real world, that is) with them in the first place -- you had stuff in common with them. That must be the draw – a constant reminder that familiar life is buzzing around you, even when you’re just sitting in bed, your laptop slowly roasting your thighs like a county fair turkey leg.

Granted, I suppose it’s nice to catch up with people you haven’t seen in years, but truthfully, once that initial high of reconnecting wears off, how much more Facebook contact are you going to have with that person, let alone face-to-face contact?

Anyway, in my two years since joining the site, I have noticed certain patterns emerging, namely that most status updates fall into one of approximately twelve neatly defined categories. Even more interesting is that each of these categories provides surprising insights into the author’s state of mind. Let’s take a look inside our collective psyche and find out what posting in a particular category says about us, shall we?

Full disclosure No. 1: I’m guilty of writing posts that fall into at least four of these categories.

Full disclosure No. 2: I’m aware I use Facebook to draw readers to The Corner.

The Song Quote
You are hip and trendy because you know this really obscure lyric from a really obscure song from a really obscure band no one else has ever heard of. You’ve heard of them because you are really, really cool, and you wish it was still 1990 because nobody made mix tapes like you. YOU HEAR ME? NO ONE!!

Do people pass around iTunes playlists the way my generation did mixes? Was there anything sadder than using a mix tape to woo a member of the opposite sex?

The Cheesy Inspirational Quote
You’re rapidly approaching 40, and you have serious self-esteem issues. Despite the plans you scribbled in your BFF’s yearbook in 1992, things haven’t gone exactly like you envisioned way back when. Look, just because you’re addicted to Vicodin and your visits with your kids are supervised doesn’t mean you’re a failure! You’re desperately hoping someone will click Like so you’ll get a quick rush of dopamine that will make you feel better for a little while until you can get your next dose of Wellbutrin.

The Announcement of Minutiae
Really? You’re going to bed? How novel. Thanks for sharing.

You’ve just spent about 30 seconds crafting an announcement that, on a Reasonable Person Would Be Interested In This scale of 1 to 10, registers a minus-26. You’re one Pabst Blue Ribbon away from making your status: is getting ready to go poop and two away from announcing that you are watching Internet porn.

If there were no Facebook, can you imagine calling 253 friends to tell them you were going to bed? I think that would be a spectacular development in personal human interaction. Probably the end of your friendships, too.

The Facebook Game Achievement
You have a GED and you like Fox News. You lack the mental firepower to play video games on an actual video game system or, you know, to maybe read a book. Level 1 of Tetris continues to confound you.

You want everyone to think you are a loser.

Former President George W. Bush says: “Mission Accomplished.”

The Personal Conversation
You are enjoying this very arm’s length conversation with this person but deep down, you don’t want things to get any closer. You don’t think they’re good enough to warrant a private conversation via e-mail. Finally, you like to talk loudly on your cell phone while in line at the grocery store.

The Big Announcement
You have become too lazy to actually tell people important to you about significant moments in your life, and so you’ve taken to the social networking equivalent of dropping propaganda leaflets over Baghdad.

The Religious Text Quotation
You’re positive that everyone who doesn’t agree with you 100 percent is going to hell. You know, because you’re perfect and everything, and so your interpretation of said quote is undoubtedly flawless. No, no, the guy who taught you the interpretation -- his interpretation is flawless, and you’ve interpreted his interpretation correctly. No, no… you know what, screw it. America kicks ass!

The Breaking News
Your desire to have people respect you is inversely proportional to how much people actually respect you. It has apparently slipped your limited intellect that virtually everyone else owns a smartphone, and they probably checked an actual news site before they read your Facebook post, so take it easy, Walter Cronkite.

The Facebook Status Copy and Paste Repost
You believe everything you read on the Internet. You have no interest in distractions like “facts” and “evidence.” You frequently use “your” when you should be using “you’re.” You are incapable of forming a coherent independent thought, but you don’t care, because you love America.

The Vacation Announcement (complete with profile pic of your flip-flop covered feet)
You are mean-spirited and kind of a dick. It’s not enough for you to finally take some well-deserved time off with your friends and family. Oh, no, you’ve got to rub it in to everyone you know, including your former high school basketball teammate who can’t take a vacation this year because he lost his job. You are secretly hoping someone breaks into your house and steals all your stuff so you can file a large insurance claim and get the LCD television instead of the plasma this time. Effing Circuit City salesman didn’t say anything about this freaking glare on the screen.

The Foursquare Check-In
You rooted for Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984. The Ministry of Magic, too. Fourth Amendment, Schmourth Amendment! You recently ordered a new comforter, imprinted with the complete text of the PATRIOT Act, and you simply cannot wait to sleep under the secure warmth it provides. That you don’t find it creepy that your whereabouts are being constantly monitored and recorded is creepy for the rest of us.

The Like
You’re not sure who clicking Like is for. Is it for you, so you can reveal, a layer at a time, the dark mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma that is … you? You’re so complex. You like Arrested Development and Darjeeling tea! Or maybe Like is for the Like-ee? Gives you the chance to see what life is like for an insecure teenage girl.

This paragraph is really close to my own Like option over on the right side of the page, isn’t it?

So … this is awkward.

Look! A new iPhone!

The Happy Birthday
You mechanically and ritualistically wish all of your friends a very happy birthday. You give this person’s birthday approximately 3.4 seconds of thought, the time it takes to tap out happy birthday! The truth is that you barely give your own birthday much thought. You know, because you’re not 7 anymore.

The Sunday Morning Link to Your Own Blog
You are a desperately unpublished writer, and the crisp musk of your Old Spice deodorant is failing under the crushing stench of failure. You unashamedly use the word blog, despite the fact that it’s one of the worst words in the history of vocabulary. You will toil away in obscurity for the rest of your life. Your kids will beg you to stop writing it when they get older.

So there it is. I still can’t figure out the mystery behind Facebook’s siren song, but I guess 500 million people can’t be wrong.

The Corner is ready for a snack and a beer.


  1. Where can I click the "like" button? I cannot find it!!!! LOL Tony

  2. man you can tell this blog is written by a lawyer! Quite the cynic you are.