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Sunday, August 21, 2011

What does a facebook status say about the face behind it?

Facebook, it would seem, is much more than a social media tool or a means to connect with friends- it is a litmus test and a mirror.
Consider what kinds of insights a person’s facebook status convey about that person. I think it is far more revealing than many people even notice. And inversely, what does it say when a person never has ANYTHING to say in their status? The silence also speaks volumes. In a typical year, it would be fascinating to analyze what an individual wrote each day, or didn’t, in their facebook status.
Facebook asks, “WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?” in the status box. So, what IS on your mind? And not just IN your mind, what are you DOING that is important enough to share with all your friends and family?
 Let’s consider:
Is it always the same theme or situation?
How often are statuses negative, bitchy, or nasty?
Are statuses filled with inappropriate words, comments or questions?

How many times does alcohol present on a facebook status?
If a supervisor or co-worker saw the status, could it affect the workplace or job?
Is there a daily litany of complaints, problems or crises?
What is the ratio between positive and negative statuses?
Is facebook being used as a pseudo therapist for venting extreme anger or impulsive rants?

What is the motivation behind the statuses? Is it being used to dig at a person or hurt someone's feelings?
Does the person posting have any idea of how their status is going to be received?
I believe balance is key to using facebook as a means to connect with people on a personal and professional level.  A person should exercise thoughtful consideration and not impulsiveness when posting anything on the internet.

Having the false sense of security because you have set your facebook settings to private is truly laughable in this age of super hacking and the ability to copy material which can be forwarded.
There really isn’t any privacy on the internet and it is foolish, na├»ve and dangerous to have a false sense of security.  Assuming you have real privacy on the internet is a denial of reality.  It can be a costly and embarrassing mistake in judgment.
One doesn’t have to be paranoid or feel afraid if common sense, a little restraint and maturity are applied.  Obviously, explicitly ranting about one’s boss or clients can risk serious alienation, loss of a job or business; and actually seems a bit "over the top" to most people viewing it. It’s probably NEVER a good idea to post something about a loved one or friend in the heat of the moment. It may not be able to be “taken back” later.
Looking in the facebook mirror, and what is behind the status, can say a great deal more than one would think. It can be a study into that individual’s life, values, thought-processes, personality and intelligence and lifestyle and say far more than anything else you may know about them.

And as I said before, for those people who have facebook and have absolutely NOTHING to say, share or interact, I wonder why they even bother. Is lurking and watching others the extent of their existence? Do they have absolutely nothing to say or nothing “on their minds”? I find it astounding and a bit perplexing. 
While I believe it is more prudent to say nothing if you haven’t anything good or positive or interesting to say, in my opinion, perhaps it would be a good idea to DO SOMETHING and take a chance. Post a status, participate, join in.  Isn’t that the whole point of the application? Sharing and participating is the reason people join in the first place.  
I love facebook because it is a snapshot into the workings of the human mind, psyche and the way individuals communicate with one another. It has the power to do many great things, and it can be a platform for truly bad behavior. I like to err on the side of positive, kind, good and prudent. Of course we all have our bad days and it is a wonderful place to share our pains, sorrows, disappointments and annoyances.

I believe that moderation and balance are essential to an online life. THINK BEFORE YOU POST and don’t say ANYTHING about anyone you wouldn’t say on the front page of The Washington Post. You never know if or when it might turn up there.


  1. Absolutely agree! Great post, Diana!

    I am a rabid curator of all my activities online. People have commented that I'm "active" online, but what I'm really doing is curating my own online brand - something anyone who is freelance needs to do, regularly. I recently learned the hard way about watching what gets posted online - you have to stay 100% conscious, all the time, about what you say on your wall, as well as on others' walls. And you should never, ever reveal too much, lest you are perceived as a TMI-narcissist.

    These are worthy questions you've raised about the hows and whys and wherefores of social media in the 21st century. Well done!

  2. great post, diana, and also a great follow up, catherine.

    i also sometimes have friends or acquaintances comment on my activity on facebook. hello? i work in public affairs! social media is a critical tool! i also have my own business, so facebook and twitter are invaluable marketing tools for me personally.

    but i love facebook for connecting with far-flung friends and family and just checking in. no, it's not the same as an in-person visit or a personal phone call, but it does allow me to keep up and know when to pick up the phone or send a private message, or plan a date with a friend.

    agree also with oversharing. :)

  3. Cate and Ellyn, Thank you for your very generous and insightful comments. Feedback is helpful and important. I am grateful you took the time to express them.

  4. Okay, here's a little counter argument, and bear in mind that I don't necessarily agree with what I am about to say, but I am merely suggesting an alternative narrative. This pertains to those who post little...your so called "lurkers". In Zen meditation, a distinction is drawn between "mind full" and "mindful". A full mind is said to be constantly spinning narratives about things that don't reflect reality...people who suffer from depression often exhibit this (I speak from experience). Mindfulness, on the other hand is a mental state of quiet reflection, a healthy balance where one is not actively trying to think about "stuff", and is merely observing what he or she sees without infusing their own thoughts on it...whatever thought pop in is observed, acknowledged, and then let go. Emptiness is a word often used in Zen meditation. My suggestion is that perhaps it's possible that those with nothing to say should actually be envied....assuming, of course, that they're not merely actively not sharing. Imagine a peaceful mental state where you don't feel the need to express high highs, low lows, anger, or frustration. Imagine going through life seeing things, recognizing what you're seeing just for what it is, and then letting it go. What is there to post about for such a person?