From Wait But Why, July 8, 2013:
7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook
The memory is vivid.
New Year’s Day, 2013. I’m going about my afternoon pleasantly, when I open my email and a friend has forwarded me what she calls a particularly heinous Facebook status from her news feed, written by someone we’ll call Daniel. It read:
2012 was a biggg year for me. I left my amazing job at NBC to move back to Chicago. I started dating my angel, Jaime Holland. I started yoga (thanks Jake Fisher & Jonah Perlstein!). I wrote an album with Matthew Johannson. Wrote another album I’m proud of. I got to hang with Owen Wilson, and worked with Will Ferrell on an amazing project. Had a conversation about Barack Obama with David Gregory. Danced. Joined a kickball team. Won a couple awards. Helped my sister plan her summer trip. Swam a lot. Golfed a little. Cried more than you would think. Read The World According to Garp. Saw Apocolypse Now. Went to Miami for the NBA Finals. Drank the best orange juice I’ve ever had with Davey Welch. Tweeted. Went to amazing weddings in Upstate New York. Drank a ridiculous amount of milk. Learned how to make sand art. Saw a great light show. Saw the Angels and Lakers. Fell in love with Jawbone Up. Cooked with Jaime. Gardened with Jaime. Watched Homeland with Jaime. Wrestled with Jaime. Laughed for hours with Jaime. Fell in love with Jaime’s family. Worked on a play. Played World of Warcraft. Did some improv. Played a ton of the guitar. Really just had a wild, amazing year. What a world.By the time I finished reading, I realized that my non-phone hand was clutching tightly to my forehead, forcefully scrunching my forehead skin together. I had the same facial expression I’d have on if someone made me watch a live event where people had their skin slowly peeled off.
It was everything bad about everything, all at once.
But instead of distancing myself from the horror, I soaked in it. I read it again and again, fascinated by how something could be so aggressively unappealing.
It made me think about what makes terrible Facebook behavior terrible, and why other Facebook behavior isn’t annoying at all. It comes down to a pretty simple rule:
A Facebook status is annoying if it primarily serves the author and does nothing positive for anyone reading it.
To examine this a bit, let’s start by discussing the defining characteristics of statuses that are not annoying....MUCH MORE
To be unannoying, a Facebook status typically has to be one of two things:
You know why these are unannoying? Because things in those two categories do something for me, the reader. They make my day a little better.
Ideally, interesting statuses would be fascinating and original (or a link to something that is), and funny ones would be hilarious. But I’ll happily take mildly amusing—at least we’re still dealing with the good guys.
On the other hand, annoying statuses typically reek of one or more of these five motivations:
1) Image Crafting. The author wants to affect the way people think of her.
2) Narcissism. The author’s thoughts, opinions, and life philosophies matter. The author and the author’s life are interesting in and of themselves.
3) Attention Craving. The author wants attention.
4) Jealousy Inducing. The author wants to make people jealous of him or his life.
5) Loneliness. The author is feeling lonely and wants Facebook to make it better. This is the least heinous of the five—but seeing a lonely person acting lonely on Facebook makes me and everyone else sad. So the person is essentially spreading their sadness, and that’s a shitty thing to do, so it’s on the list.
Facebook is infested with these five motivations—other than a few really saintly people, most people I know, myself certainly included, are guilty of at least some of this nonsense here and there. It’s an epidemic.
To lay out the most common types of offenses:
7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook
1) The BragBragging is such a staple of unfortunate Facebook behavior, it needs to be broken into three subsections:
1a) The “I’m Living Quite the Life” Brag
Description: A post making your life sound great, either in a macro sense (got your dream job, got your degree, love your new apartment) or a micro sense (taking off on an amazing trip, huge weekend coming up, heading out on a fun night with friends, just had an amazing day)
Core reasons for posting: Image Crafting (I’m successful; I’m happy; I have a great social life), Jealousy Inducing
- Guess who just got her TFA acceptance letter!!!
- Tailgating, Giants game, night out with Dave, Matt, Paul, and Andy. I love you, Saturday.
So at best, you’re just really excited about your life and you need to tell everyone, and at worst you’re specifically hoping to make people feel worse about their lives and jealous of yours. Somewhere in the middle would be you calculatingly crafting your words as part of an unendearing and transparent campaign to make people see you in a certain way.
Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re just excited and need to brag to someone. Even if that’s the case, the only people it’s okay to brag to in life are your close friends, significant other, and family members—and that’s what email, texting, phone calls, and live talking are for. Your moment of self-satisfaction is profoundly annoying to people you’re not that close with, and they make up the vast majority of people who will be subjected to the status.
1b) The Undercover Brag
Description: Like the blatant brags above except behind a frail disguise. This includes all humblebrags, indirect brags, brags disguised as a rant, etc.
Core reasons for posting: Image Crafting, Jealousy Inducing
- Apparently they now give PhDs to frauds and drunks. What a time to be alive!
- I’ll be traveling for the summer if anyone knows someone looking to sublease a Soho apartment in July and August.
- On my walk home from work, I was whistled at twice, honked at twice, and one car almost caused an accident slowing down to stare at me. Sometimes I really hate men.
On one hand, these people are at least self-aware enough to cloak their brag in something. On the other hand, they have the same exact core motivations as the blatant braggers and looking at these examples actually makes the first group seem almost lovable in comparison.
1c) The “I’m in a Great Relationship” Brag
Description: A public expression of your extremely positive feelings for your significant other or an anecdote signifying the perfection of your relationship.
Core reasons for posting: Image Crafting (FYI, I have a boyfriend; I’m in a wonderful relationship), Jealousy Inducing
- A surprise trip to Vermont for two nights in a cabin. All I can say is Wow, what a boyfriend.
- Thanks, Rachel, for the best year of my life.
- Excited for a rainy Sunday of pizza, games, and movies with the wife.
The image crafting and jealousy inducing motives here are transparent. The only less-appalling possibility could be that it’s an attempt to strengthen the relationship itself by showing how you feel in a more substantial way than just saying it in private. But really? You’re gonna drag 800 of us into this shit because you couldn’t find a more creative way to go over the top in expressing yourself?
The one very funny possibility when it’s a guy posting is that either he’s in trouble for something or that his girlfriend’s friend’s boyfriend pulled some shit like this at some point and his girlfriend has now been 10% mad at him ever since it happened, so he finally has to just bite the bullet.
The fact is, there’s no excuse for it, because if you feel the need to plaster your relationship all over Facebook, there are plenty of socially acceptable ways to do so—go nuts with couple profile photos, and enjoy three separate moments of like button and comment applause when you change your status to “in a relationship,” “engaged,” and “married.”
2) The Cryptic Cliffhanger....
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