So sometimes I’m a bad sociologist because sometimes I get a little self-centered and care more about the individual than society as a whole. Therefore, I was bored and scrolling through the articles on Shine when I came across The Psychology Behind Status Updates. I was instantly curious because I actually don’t update my status all that much. No one really cares what I’m doing every single day and they probably care even less about any random thoughts I could put in the little box (Unless it’s some complaint about our school that the general population has reached a consensus about. Ahem, Guitar Boy). Unless it’s song lyrics (Love you, BG), I don’t update. So what drives a lot of other people to do it and not me?
Good question right? Well, the article doesn’t really explain it. I’m not saying I was expecting some article full of psychobabble that no layman would understand. But I was expecting something with a little psychological background. Maybe something about the locus of control or some disorder. The author has a Psy.D. for goodness sake! But there was none of that. Not even a mention of a prevalent psychologist. What a disappointment.
What she does do is kind of explain why we pay attention to what other people put as their statuses, mostly through anecdotal evidence (There is definitely nothing scientific about this at all. I was kind of hoping for a real study).
So part of the reason she says we pay attention to the Facebook activity of others is natural human curiosity. I’m not going to argue. I see something randomly come up about someone from my past and I get interested. So I go stalk their profile and see what they’ve been up to. Figure out who they’re dating and hanging out with, where they are going to school or working, how their interests have changed since I knew them. But sometime curiosity kills the cat, you know? It’s like when you see something posted by the person you’re interested in (You know what I’m talking about) so you decide to stalk their profile and see they’ve been hitting on some other person. See, curiosity sucks. But I can see how it plays a big part into what I’m paying attention to.
Her second observation I’m not so sure on. Living vicariously through others on Facebook? Especially someone who you don’t have much personal, face-to-face contact with? She’s lost me because I think this one is total BS. If you are going to live vicariously through someone, I think it has to mainly be in a face-to-face interaction. You have to be able to see how excited they about whatever you are talking about and see their reactions to stuff. I know you occasionally get where the person who is telling the story doesn’t find it nearly as interesting as the listener but I think for the most part both parties get excited (Being excited can kind of spread like a disease). However, this one may apply to an older generation better. My example being my mom on Facebook. I live with her so I don’t exactly pay attention to every update. Plus, I’ve probably already heard about whatever it is she’s posting. But, that doesn’t mean her other friends have. She has a lot of friends on there that she went to high school with and despite the fact we still live in the same place, she doesn’t have much personal interaction with them. That doesn’t stop her from getting a million comments on the most random stuff she can put up from these people who knew her when she was 18 (And trust me, from what I’ve heard there’s a huge difference between the quiet little girl she was then and who she is now). I think maybe studying the difference in how Facebook is used between my generation and my mom’s would be really interesting since I use it with people I go to college with mostly and people who I went to high school with just a few years ago, not people I haven’t seen in years.
So, by this point I had lost all hope in the article and really just wanted to make sure there was nothing I was missing. Maybe she’s put all the good information at the end. Don’t know why but I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. No such luck on my part. She finished with this list of her “final thoughts” about Facebook. And what stupid thoughts they were.
The first one: “If you post it they will talk! And some of the talk maybe downright ridiculous gossip!” Okay, for some people this may not be stupid. And by some people, I mean those really annoying people where every little thing posted turns into drama. But for most people, I think that the only comments they are getting are from people they care about and see regularly (Or at least hear from regularly). That’s who they are talking to on Facebook. And I’m going to go ahead and guess that those people aren’t the ones starting gossip. Maybe this is just me and the fact that I get comments from my mom and that’s about it (Yeah, it’s that pathetic).
Okay, the second one is one of those that probably refers to a generation that I’m not in and, therefore, I think it’s wrong but really it’s not: “If you post it, or someone posts it about you, they will contact you. Hey, it’s a great way to reconnect with friends you haven’t talked to in a while.” In my experience, the only time anyone who I don’t really talk to anymore contacts me is on my birthday and vice versa. And we really don’t carry on a conversation. There is one girl who on our birthdays we check in and see how life’s going but she’s just a really sweet girl who I became friends with far too late in high school. It probably holds true with my parent’s generation. I know they’ve talked to a lot of people from their past that they had in quite a while. This was a very personal thought of hers if you ask me.
Her third one was basically about how every little thing can be misconstrued on Facebook. Ummm, duh? Why does she think that like 80% of the drama on there is started (The other 20% coming from those annoying people who like starting it and drunken Facebooking)? Sarcasm can’t be picked up on and inside jokes only work when the only two people who understand it are the only ones in the conversation. I don’t know what else to say since this isn’t exactly groundbreaking thinking. No need to alert the presses here.
The final two thoughts are about just as shocking (And by shocking, I mean just as duh since we all already knew this). She suggests that Facebook is a great form of entertainment when you are bored. What does she think keeps our grades so low and our homework from getting done? And what else are we going to do on break when we don’t feel like doing anything? Good job. How deeply profound of you. She also says that face-to-face interaction is always better than Facebook interaction. Wow, I am so impressed by her. NOT! I’ve said it for years now. Facebook is a necessary evil because it’s about the only way I manage to stay in contact with my friends who live or go to school elsewhere and how I make and solidify plans with those who I see all the time. It’s not like I would rather talk to my parents, boyfriend, or best friends on Facebook instead of seeing them (Okay, there are times when I would but that’s really for their own benefits when I’m in a bad mood). Facebook is just slowly dehumanizing us all. Maybe she needs to go read some Weber and she’ll get it.
Overall, I was really disappointed in the content of the article. I could’ve come up with something that sounded better than most of this (I guess Shine really isn’t looking for the same type of article I am though). How about adding this one into it though: use Facebook wisely and there’s no problem with it. Don’t do anything stupid and keep private information private. And TALK TO REAL PEOPLE! Ugh! I fear for the future of society if future generations aren’t smart enough to figure this stuff out.