Tuesday, February 1, 2011

14 Facebook Status Updates: Which type are you posting, and do your Friends appreciate them?

Thanks to Facebook, with the help of high-speed Internet and mobile phones that are like pocket-sized computers, we are immediately and constantly connected in ways we've never been before. We are able to stay in constant contact with friends and family, acquaintances, the guy who sat in the cubicle next to you in that job you quit three years ago...

As our methods of communication become increasingly impersonal, our desire to share more and more details about our lives becomes insatiable, so we have come to embrace Facebook, and the Facebook Status Update. After years of reading these updates, I have broken down Facebook Status Updates into 14 distinct categories. Some Status Updates are more well-received than others, and some Facebook Users are more self-aware than others and need a clue to understanding how their Status Updates are perceived.

1. The Who, What, When, Where, Why
This is the most common type of Status Update, and the type of Status Update I believe Facebook intended when this feature debuted a few years ago. Remember when Status Updates always began with "(Your Name) is--" and you just finished that sentence? These are the posts that announce big news or your daily comings and goings. Post these Updates early and often--but not too often.
  • Samantha is at the Lady Gaga concert!
  • Kelly just had the best lunch with Sally! nom nom nom
  • Kristen is going to be an aunt!
  • Amy is excited to start her new job!
  • Jill's phone was stolen. Message me if you need me!
2. The Interesting Tidbit
Remember those ordinary days when something unexpected happened and you had nobody to share it with? Easily the most entertaining of Status Updates, they often open up a dialogue with friends.
  • Sitting next to James Van Der Beek on the plane. How much will you pay me to softly hum the Dawson's Creek theme song?
  • I entered the address of a baby crib store into my navigation system, and it took me directly to The Casket Store. GPS FAIL.
  • I don't know which is worse: the Santa talk or the Sex talk. Both equally horrifying.
3. The Philosophical Friend
A personal prayer between you and Jesus, a quote from scripture, text from a devotional or self-help book, an old proverb, or wise saying you read on a coffee mug can be a lovely Facebook Status Update. Even when it comes out of nowhere. Just know that if you previously never posted such philosophical, religious, or wistful chestnuts and now you are, your Facebook Friends will wonder if you are in crisis or having an existential meltdown. Perhaps prefacing these updates with a simple, "I'm just tapping into my spiritual side, y'all!" will put your Friends at ease.
  • True worship comes not from the measure of emotional response but from true reflection of the soul.
  • ‎"The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity." André Gide
  • Dear God, You knew me before the stars were put in place or the oceans formed. You held me in the heart of Your plan. Thank You for putting Your eternal fingerprints all over me and keeping me forever on Your mind. In Jesus' name, amen.
4. The Sympathy Seeker
"Sympathy Seeker" might sound like a negative, but it isn't. What is the point of a social networking site like Facebook if you can't utilize it when you need to vent, or discuss you and your family's medical problems, and sometimes, (unfortunately) make a sad announcement. These posts tend to attract a lot of comments offering a shoulder to lean on, sage advice, prayers, well-wishes, and cyber *hugs*. It brings a little extra humanity to Facebook, and if I have to read about your eating habits and your movie reviews day-in and day-out, the least you can do is fill me in when something important happens. Obviously I care about you. Or I'm nosy.
  • Laney is so sad that Uncle Phil has passed away.
  • Lucy is taking Ella to the Dr. If he doesn't agree to put tubes in her ears, I'm gonna raise hell!
  • Aunt Brenda had an abnormal pap smear. Please pray everything is ok!
  • Ugh, my boss is such a pig! I hate my job!
5. The Cryptic Message
This is perhaps the most puzzling of all Status Updates. This can be a wordy paragraph that feels oddly specific and directed at a particular individual (who isn't you). This can also be a vague or puzzling song lyric, leading your Facebook Friends to decipher the hidden meaning of the lyrics and how they may pertain to your life. This could be a misguided Sympathy Seeker or a cry for help, but the message has been lost in its ambiguity. Helpful tip: unless you're going to name names and make this interesting for everybody, air your grievances in a message, email or blog. And unless you and your boyfriend just broke up and you've changed your Facebook "Relationship Status", do not post a lyric from a Dave Matthews Band song. It only confuses your Friends and causes them to worry. If you feel that you are a danger to yourself or others and are attempting a cry for help, quoting "Jeremy" by Pearl Jam is not the way to go. We can't place you on a psychiatric hold based on that alone. But we will all question your mental stability.
  •  "Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away..."
  • It was over before it even began
  • I am so tired of being disappoimted by people who I trust w/ my heart. I have always been there 4u and ur nothing but a backstabber. No room in my life 4 selfish immature people.
6. The Poll-Taker
Need a babysitting referral? Looking to make a big purchase, choose a restaurant for dinner, or plan your next big vacation? Who needs Consumer Reports, Trip Advisor and the like, when you can quickly and casually consult your 500 closest friends? I for one have made a lot of important decisions based on informal Facebook "Poll" Status Updates. What can I say, my friends are decisive, informative, and (generally) impartial. I trust their judgment!
  • Did that new Ashton Kutcher movie suck? I'm in the mood for a rom com!
  • I'm babysitting my three-year-old nephew for the day. Where should I take him?
  • Headed to Chi-Town on business tomorrow. Where can I get a good steak, friends?
  • Time for a new computer. Am I a Mac or a PC?
7. The Self-Promoter
What is Facebook if not a networking tool? It can quickly become a network for tools if one is not careful. When used wisely, Facebook users with charitable causes, political aspirations, rock star dreams and entrepreneurial endeavors have successfully raised awareness of their cause or grown their business using Facebook to promote themselves. Worried your self-promoting may border on excessive? The amount of comments and feedback is a good indicator if you are turning people on or off with your self-promotion. Got a self-promoter clogging up your News Feed? If you hover your mouse on the upper-right corner of their Status Update in your News Feed, an "X" will appear, giving you the option to hide this person's Status Updates forever. You're welcome.
  • Call Brad's Lawn Service for all your landscaping needs!
  • Our band is playing at Smoky Joe's tonight! Hope to see you there!
  • Hey guys, help me raise money for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure!
8. The Town Crier
Want the latest in news, weather, and entertainment? The Facebook News Feed is a great way to stay informed and keep your fingers on the pulse of what your friends care about right this second.
  • Really wishing I remembered my umbrella today.
  • RIP Michael Jackson.
  • DADT repeal passes Senate! [link]
9. The Sports Reporter
A quick view of my Facebook News Feed tells me everything I need to know in the world of sports: who's playing in the big game today, who's injured, controversies, bloopers, conditions of the playing field, critiques of the sideline reporters, observations of the uniforms. In the past, I have been able to fake knowing about sports by directly quoting the Status Updates of my Facebook Friends.
  • Steelers are going to the Super Bowl!
  • Oregon is looking a little overmatched. Can't run the ball.
  • Game 2 has got to go better than Game 1
10. The Pay-It-Forward Friend
This could overlap with The Town Crier or The Interesting Tidbit, but this type of Status Update has a more benevolent agenda. It is posted for no reason other than because the Facebook User wants to share useful information, a provocative article, or a hilarious viral video they've recently stumbled upon.
  • The Tollway is a parking lot today. Stay away!
  • A whole website devoted to cats that look like Hitler! Now I've seen everything! [link]
  • Gas prices will go up this spring [link]
11. The Jet-Setter and the Social Butterfly
While you're nursing your little girl back to health as she recovers from her tonsillectomy (as I read in your Sympathy Seeker Status Update), your old college roommate's Status Update reveals that she's just been skydiving ("How exhilarating!") and tonight she's meeting Kings of Leon in a backstage meet-and-greet. And tomorrow she's headed to Vegas. And the day after that, you'll try not to de-friend her so you can stop reading about how much more adventurous her life is than yours. Are they being intentionally boastful to make themselves feel important or make you feel jealous? One can only speculate, but I can say this: A little goes a long way.
  • Flying 1st class to London on my company's dime! Does life get any better?
  • Headed to Antigua, again. The water is just so blue!
  • Just got upgraded to "VIP" at Ghostbar. Probably because I'm so sexy.
12. The "Dear Diary" Friend
This Friend's posts are harmless. Their Status Updates are kind of like flipping through a stack of somebody else's vacation photographs. After the seventh or eighth snapshot of The Great Barrier Reef, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to feign enthusiasm. I wasn't actually there with you. I can't appreciate the magic. You should probably refrain from these posts. Write about it in your diary, or devote a page in your scrapbook. At their worst, these updates share "too much information". Also, these Friends are so cheerful, they typically refer to their significant other or children as "the best", and if they've got "the best", then that automatically means that those of us reading the Status Update do not have the best. To all the married ladies out there: raise your hand if you just love reading about how great somebody else's husband is on a day when your husband is being a rascal. Or the day you found out your husband is leaving you for the stripper he impregnated.
  • OMG, y'all--I was craving a brownie earlier, and my sweet husband totally got me a brownie! My life is so blessed!
  • Madison went poopy in the potty. I gave her two m&m's. Such a special day in our house.
  • I thought I didn't have enough milk for my morning bowl of cereal, which made me sad. Then I realized I do have enough milk for my cereal! What a great day!
  • I'm spending all day in bed with my sweetie! xoxo
13. The Instigator
This breed of Facebook User thinks they were sent to piss the world off. They may be right. This Status Update will hold your News Feed hostage with it's intentionally controversial, polarizing and inflammatory remarks, designed to trigger a heated debate. These Facebook Users do it for kicks, and getting down and dirty with them only encourages them. Helpful advice to the Instigators: If you choose to be this type of Status Update poster, don't change gears and try to become a Sympathy Seeker or a Self-Promoter. After reading your offensive remarks, nobody wants to help you.
  • Obama is contemplating cutting the pay increase for the military and the Islamic center 2 blocks from Ground Zero is asking for $5 million to finish their building. I'm going out on a limb here, but go fuck yourself since it is your bullshit "religion of peace" that dropped those buildings and has tied us up in war for the last 9 years.
  • Terrorists getting acquitted, gays about to serve openly. This is the change I can believe in. Thanks Obama
  • The people who cheer for the team I don't like are a bunch of ignorant rednecks who sleep with their sisters.
14. The Twitter Feed
This Facebook User has completely confused Facebook with Twitter. Twitter asks the question "What are you doing?" and wants you to answer it in 140 characters or less, as many times throughout the day as you like. The Facebook Users who treat their Status Updates like a Twitter Feed update multiple times throughout the day, and share the most banal details of their existence that nobody cares about. The best is when The Twitter Feed friend's sixth Update of the day is "I'm so busy!" and I'm reading it and thinking, "Really? You're not too busy to tell me everything you ate today." Seriously, step away from the computer.
  • Misty just finished four loads of laundry!
  • Misty wants a nap.
  • Misty had the best nap!
  • Misty just did another load of laundry. It never ends, LOL!
  • Misty baked a cake.
  • Misty ate a cake.
  • Misty has a tummy ache.


  1. Haha! Love this post! The "cryptic message" or vague-booking as I like to call it...so annoying.

  2. This was very insightful. I could put a face with each type of facebook status update.

  3. I cannot stand the #5s. Love this post.