What’s Your Status?
On statuses, sharing them, and why we feel so inclined to talk about what we ate for lunch.
Internet discoveries never grow tired. Last week I learned about a relatively new tumblr titled What’s On Your Mind. The site illustrates the varying Facebook status updates of “real people” (the assumption here is that the real people in question are friends, in the Facebook sense, of the illustrator,) using uniform imagery that sticks to a color palette comprised mostly of Facebook blue and red to bring the comments to life. It’s as simple as a clean thought button hovering over a small drawing.
Looking at the site initially prompted several thoughts. On the one hand, I wondered why people are still using Facebook as Twitter? I know, I know, in the case of one vs. the other, the chicken (Facebook) came several years before the egg (Twitter). It’s worthy to note, though, that the egg in question hatched, grew, and essentially ate the former chicken, so this question remains.
On the other hand, I wondered if the tumblr would function as an ironic and comical nod (one not unlike Tweet Dreams) to the absurdities that often permeate various social networks but maybe most predominantly now, Facebook. (This, if only because Facebook users are slightly older than those on newer social networks.) And while I wasn’t necessarily wrong, I wasn’t really right, either. In perusing the various statuses (“Olivia has zuchini in her hair, I really didn’t want to give her a bath tonight, UGH!”) I found myself confused trying to figure out if the illustrator behind What’s On Your Mind is trying to galvanize the status sharing experience or mock it.
Of course, the illustrations documented on the site are charming and pleasant to look at, but where is a status update that reads, “I found broccoli at the market today!” coming from? I mean really, really coming from? Is it as simple as wanting to share something for the sake of sharing it or does this delve deeper into this strange sense of urgency that an updater may feel when prompted with the opportunity to share what’s on her/his mind.
Frankly, it seems it would have been sufficiently more interesting if said updater had actually meant e-coli, no?
In canvassing the topic with Kate, she shared a brief recollection of this one time (at band camp) when her boyfriend decided that he would verbalize each and every one of his shower thoughts for a week. In performing the pseudo-experiment, he ultimately only learned about the repetitious nature of his thoughts, (apparently, he only thinks about five things while washing his hair). And while sure, that’s interesting, I guess, what I learned is that a status update effectively allows us to share our shower thoughts out loud, however frequently or infrequently we want, without ever having to speak and the almost surefire notion that someone will respond thus validating your commitment to over-sharing.
So, does that mean we’re hungry to share more than we may have previously subconsciously believed shareable or that on a domain as densely populated as Facebook, we’ve been conditioned to long for this curious sense of digital camaraderie and subsequently to try to collect that using these brief, trite anecdotes? In 2013, is this precisely what George Saunders would have called The Braindead Megaphone? The perpetuity of prosaic words being exchanged and discussed simply because they’re there.
In looking back at my own status updates, the most recent one I could find (that did not include a link to an article I deemed highly worthy of sharing) was dated February 27th. In it, I asked when I could plausibly start calling myself a humorist–anticipating, I guess, that all 1,582 of my friends would say something to the effect of “you already are one, DUH.” The actual result? Radio silence. Maybe my friends know better than to humor me.
Now I ask you, at the risk of sounding wildly hypocritical, in matters of Facebook’s million dollar question, What’s On Your Mind, what’s on your mind?