The proper use of Facebook status

(Originally posted December 02, 2007)

Facebook status can be a wonderful tool for informing friends of your whereabouts, killing time, and publishing your concise opinions for the world to see. Nonetheless, I have noticed a disturbing trend lately.  Instead of using this tool for its designed purpose, people have twisted and perverted the feature. Facebook status has become a means of drawing attention. People post statuses not to entertain or inform others, but merely to get others to view their profile.
The Great Mark Zuckerberg would be appalled.

Background

As you probably know, facebook status works as follows:
a) You select the “edit status” button on your profile.
b) You fill in a present participle verb.
c) At this point, you have the option of adding any relevant prepositional phrases, objects, or dependent clauses.

So for his status, Jim might type “walking his dog” or “walking his dog at the moment” into the status box. His status would appear like this:  “Jim is walking his dog at the moment.”

Appropriate uses of the facebook status typically involve 1) telling your friends what you’re doing, 2) whining about papers that you have to write, 3) praising or complaining about sports or political developments, 4) telling others SPECIFIC information about your mood or your life that you wish to share, and 5) typing random, comedic comments. Here are some examples of appropriate facebook statuses:

Sally is…in the library.
Tony is…watching the latest amazing episode of House, M.D.
Pablo is…excited that he just got a GRRRREAAT score on his calculus test and that his family is coming to visit.
Makeesha is…halfway done with her her l4me english paper which is due tomorrow.

The first example shows Sally’s location. The second one shows an activity. The third mentions Pablo’s mood, but it clarifies the situation by explaining properly *why* he is excited. Finally, the fourth example expresses a valid complaint regarding academics.

Any change in facebook status will necessarily show up in at least SOMEONE’s newsfeed. If the status piques enough curiosity, the second individual may have no choice but to view the attention-seeker’s profile. Ultimately, this flawed nature within the status feature has led to the the tragic downfall of that once-great tool.

Breakdown of the Status

Today, the average facebook user will routinely see statuses IN HIS NEWSFEED that hint only vaguely at people’s personal lives. These hints do not include specific detail, but they nonetheless attempt to arouse sympathy, curiosity, or even romantic jealousy.  For example,

1) Sam is…sad.
2) Mindy is…oober excited that something good just happened to her. 🙂
3) Jenny is…praying that God helps her through these tough times….
4) Renell is…wishing people were not so immature.

Anyone reading these statuses in their facebook newsfeed will feel compelled to view the attention-seeker’s profile. But in doing so, they most likely won’t find any more information. Instead, they will be curious about *why* Sam is sad, why Mindy is excited, why Jenny is praying, and why Renell is upset. (Of course, it would typically be awkward to *ask* for more detail — even if you wanted to.)

Hope for the Future

On the bright side, let’s now look at some simple ways to convert these flawed facebook statuses into more legitimate expressions:

Sam is sad…because his parents just died, and his dog.
Mindy is oober excited…because some cute guy asked her out.
Jenny is praying that God helps her…to get over the fact that her boyfriend just dumped her.
Renell is wishing…that his friends Mark and Tim weren’t such lame-asses.

You see, the main problem was the lack of clarity. Don’t make others curious about your status. No one really wants to hear about how sad you are…unless you explain specifically why you are sad. Facebook status is for information-sharing, not information-hoarding or attention-seeking. We must all do our part to improve the overall facebook etiquette.

In the end, I hope this analysis will help improve facebook use across the world and lead to the betterment of mankind.

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