Much of this knowledge comes in the form of “status updates.” On your Facebook home page, there is always the question: “What are you doing right now?” People fill in this information with anything and everything. Here are some actual examples of what my contacts’ status updates say right now:
“Bill is making meatloaf sandwiches.”
(Bill is a guy I knew in high school. He was a grade older than me and we were on the fringes of the same social circles. However, Bill and I were never actual friends. I also think that his mother was one of my middle school English teachers.)
“Lauren has a headache.”
(Lauren is a former co-worker.)
“Erin is having a new furnace installed.”
(Erin is a woman I was friendly with in college, but have not spoken to since 1997.)
“Cheryl is looking for a new chiropractor.”
(Cheryl and I had some classes together in high school, but I can’t remember having actual conversations with her.)
My point is that while I want Bill, Lauren, Erin, and Cheryl to be happy and healthy, I honestly do not care about their sandwiches, headaches, furnaces, and chiropractors. I am sure the feeling is mutual. If I were to enter a status update right now, it would read:
“Stacey just finished eating a candy bar.”
It’s likely that Bill, Lauren, Erin, and Cheryl care about me and my candy bar as much as I care about them eating sandwiches.
Facebook has also now spread through many generations of people. I first noticed this when my friend Danielle’s mother joined Facebook. This was a topic of hot debate for Danielle and I. We spent hours pondering why Danielle’s mother would join Facebook and if Danielle was obligated to be friends with her. While on the surface it sounds like no big deal, if Danielle were to become friends with her mother, it would greatly limit what she was able to say in her status updates. A harmless statement such as “Danielle’s son is driving her crazy” would cause Danielle’s mother to become alarmed and immediately call Danielle to find out what was wrong. In reality, this status update would simply be Danielle blowing off steam. Her mother, however, would take every status update extremely seriously.
Danielle’s mother did end up becoming her Facebook friend. Danielle now rarely uses Facebook because of it and has vastly explored the site’s privacy settings.
After Danielle’s mother joined Facebook, our friend Dave’s father joined. Then came my stepmother. Our parents are joining Facebook in droves. If my mother knew there was a way to check on my daily activities via the web, she would be all over it. Thankfully, she has not yet discovered this.
Facebook can also sometimes bring you news you do not want to hear. One morning last week, I received a Facebook notice that my friend Brian had updated his profile photo. Brian does not fall into the category of people I was never really friends with in real life. Brian is a former boyfriend who recently decided we should stop talking. Out of curiosity, I clicked on Brian’s new picture. On my laptop screen appeared a photo of Brian and his new girlfriend. This highly bothered me and I quickly deleted him from my friends list. Brian and his new girlfriend are not what I need to see every day, among my daily news of headaches and meatloaf sandwiches.
Facebook has gotten too big for its britches. With everyone and their mother and grandmother using the site, it easily has the capacity to become annoying. Use Facebook at your own risk.
Goldstein, S. (2009). Facebook: Enough Already!. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2009/facebook-enough-already/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.