What’s Your Status?

On statuses, sharing them, and why we feel so inclined to talk about what we ate for lunch.

Zoom

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.

I know asking this question is a tale as old as JavaScript, but reading about broccoli and pillows and lost hope in conjunction with receiving flowers, I became curious about what it is that motivates people to update their networks on the banalities of their day to day?

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?

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Thoughts?
  • Alice

    Tumblr is basically a treasure trove for everything that exists in the world.

    xx
    Alice
    aldasworld.blogspot.com

  • Andrew

    What’s on my mind? Lana del Rey, camouflage sandals, and Lena Dunham- just like everyone else on tumblr.

    http://www.theinclub.blogspot.com

  • Noemi

    After reading this article (and even while I was reading this article), what came to mind (and what’s still on my mind) was what were those five things Kate’s boyfriend thought about and verbalized while in the shower at band camp??

    • Quinn

      I have a feeling we should be friends…

  • http://www.facebook.com/paula.mcclelland1984 Paula McClelland

    I’ve just shared this on my Facebook in the vain hope of deterring my “friends” from banal updates…
    On my mind: Shoes, music, the fact my holiday will soon be over and I’ll have to get a JOB #firstworldproblems.

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.
    http://shoe-fiend.blogspot.co.uk/

    • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

      I’m tempted to do this too, though I’m not sure they’ll take the hint. My Facebook friends are notoriously aloof. :-)

  • Brandy Saldana

    Very good article. Before Facebook and Twitter people would have wanted a super power to read other people’s minds. Now it turns out a majority of people’s minds are not worth reading to begin with lol.

    On my mind: managing various projects at work and giving my hunny some extra closet space by doing some spring cleaning.

    Brandy
    willbakeforshoes.com

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    I totally get what you mean. I rarely update on Facebook anymore (can’t make the jump to Twitter just yet…I’m holding out), and when I do I feel…well…weird about it now. Like I’m that annoying kid who is constantly yelling “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT WHAT I CAN DO! WHY AREN’T YOU LOOKING AT ME?!” at their exhausted, dead behind the eyes parents who just want them to shut the fuck up and go play by themselves for two minutes.

    It’s why I think I gravitated to blogging – I can form complete, thoughtful responses that are a hell of a lot more meaningful to me (and hopefully others) than “Man, the weather is really warm/cold/rainy/dry/bitchy today.” I also get to READ more thoughtful things than how many times my friends’ kids have taken a shit, what the weather is like 2 blocks from my house, or how much they hate their jobs (especially when said complainer makes 5x more than me).

    So in response to what’s on my mind?

    I’m thinking about finishing up the dishes before heading back out to teach an evening class. Also not really wanting to go to class because, let’s face it, I’d rather be eyeballs deep in a pint of ice cream and heading for a nap right now. :-) Maybe I should put that shit on my Facebook…….

  • http://www.fancyalterego.wordpress.com/ Heather P.

    I totally get what you mean. I rarely update on Facebook anymore (can’t make the jump to Twitter just yet…I’m holding out), and when I do I feel…well…weird about it now. Like I’m that annoying kid who is constantly yelling “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT WHAT I CAN DO! WHY AREN’T YOU LOOKING AT ME?!” at their exhausted, dead behind the eyes parents who just want them to shut the fuck up and go play by themselves for two minutes.

    It’s why I think I gravitated to blogging – I can form complete, thoughtful responses that are a hell of a lot more meaningful to me (and hopefully others) than “Man, the weather is really warm/cold/rainy/dry/bitchy today.” I also get to READ more thoughtful things than how many times my friends’ kids have taken a shit, what the weather is like 2 blocks from my house, or how much they hate their jobs (especially when said complainer makes 5x more than me).

    So in response to what’s on my mind?

    I’m thinking about finishing up the dishes before heading back out to teach an evening class. Also not really wanting to go to class because, let’s face it, I’d rather be eyeballs deep in a pint of ice cream and heading for a nap right now. :-) Maybe I should put that shit on my Facebook…….

  • Karina N

    Before this article, I had never actually thought about how many of the same thoughts we recycle but ITS TRUE! Im constantly talking/tweeting about the same things, and so are the tweeps I’m following (94% of it used to be complains until I decided to unfollow half of them). Social networking has become a venting method for a lot of people, which as rude as it sounds on my part, I dont want to hear it. Most of the older crowed on Facebook may complain about the low stock of broccoli at the convenient store but we’re not any different with our constant “I WANNA DIE BECAUSE I HAVE SO MUCH TO STUDY! WHENS THE LAST TIME I WAS DRUNK?”

  • state of sunday

    i think it must have something to do with constantly seeking approval from other people… these days it feels we are so much more reliant on the public opinion. Sometimes i look at the people on my facebook and wonder if they actually live their life for Facebook… as in “my whole sole purpose in life is to make my life look freaking awesome on Facebook… no one needs to know that its raining and the food is crap – check out my uber smiling selfie!” [vomit]

  • http://twitter.com/stylishhwife Stylish Housewife

    i can NOT stand when my friends leave tweet comments on fb. but those people still do not “get” twitter. seriously now considering de-friending a few because just thinking about it now is irking me. lol. and i thought i was the only one who always heard “at band camp” every time someone says “and then this one time”. i often start typing my shower thoughts on twitter and then think better of it and hit delete.

    • steve

      I press send and then retroactively delete them and then feel like an idiot for retroactively deleting them so go back and try to retype the same thing but end up misspelling the tweet so I delete that one and then upload another one with better spelling but forget the link I wanted to include so then upload another and by this point I’ve lost every follower I didn’t have and seriously consider the notion that I may in fact be that ‘one really annoying person’ who doesn’t seem to have a filter for social media.

  • Elle

    Just wanted to say that I love reading your articles!! Love your style of writing! :)
    bisouselle@blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/bellechantelle Chantelle

    Yeah, I can particularly see the constant updates as the older generations have sprung onto facebook. The younger peeps have moved their thought parties to twitter. I honestly wished people would just get damn twitter, so I know what to expect when I scroll through my home feed. *sigh*

  • Lydia

    Just laughed loudly and awkwardly at the 6th picture while in the library. Love that the person felt obliged to say “but don’t worry”.

  • rachel

    i’m commenting before i read. i make statues because i’m funny and am a Facebook socialite-NOT TO SHARE WHAT I ATE FOR LUNCH THATS STUPID

  • brunetteletters

    I’m always ridiculously ‘scared’ that I won’t get any likes on my statuses and make myself look like a loser.

    Great post!

    http://www.brunettelettersblog.blogspot.com

    • http://twitter.com/SwCatwalks Naina

      This. Precisely this. Facebook isn’t for ‘sharing with friends’ anymore, it’s a popularity contest.

      SIDEWALKCATWALKS.com

  • Dandy

    Facebooks really boring these days, I think everyones moved onto posting photos on instagram instead, trying to conceptualise there worded thoughts into images..

    http://thewhatiwores.blogspot.com.au

  • avery

    Your post made me think of this comic I came across recently.
    This may not give the answer to the possible ulterior motive to such posts, but I laughed anyways.

    • avery

      THIS post

  • http://twitter.com/christamelonae c.

    great read! I always read over old statuses and even twitter post. i’m always met with the same questions, “why did i post this?” and “what was i thinking?”. I even wrote a poem/rap once as a Facebook status when I was 14. Drop the beat!
    “I live for success and i’ll die trying to reach it, i’m always in the books because that’s where they preach it, they say follow your vision it is your mission because you can’t reach success without a load of ambition.” WORD (oh the tender years of adolescence lol) watch out Azealia Banks i’m coming for you. x

  • Erica R Deutsch

    awesome read. i’ve actually been working in a social psych lab where we’ve been collecting people’s fb pages and giving them surveys pertaining to their personalities. the findings are interesting, but somewhat expected: lots of extraversion, neuroticism, narcissism, etc. correlated with the types of statuses people post and stuff.

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    I really like facebook for looking at all the places people travel to and eat. :P But I can do without the status updates on “what’s on your mind?”

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    I think the last time I made a status on Facebook was in 2010 and it was something like “OMG, crying over CdG show!” or “NO HOMEWORK I’M SO BORED/HAPPY”. Neither garnered any response, and they shouldn’t have anyway.
    —-
    P.S. Duh, Leandra, you’re a humorist! Still trying to piece together the story of the “standing next to Fran tweet” (speaking of humorists/writers)….

  • http://www.prettysparklythings.blogspot.com/ Donna

    I think Facebook has become like a giant email. Most people don’t do exciting things on a daily basis, and now that everyone knows this, status updates have become forwards/shares of sayings typed on images. Sometimes (rarely) there are links to interesting articles. Lots of photos, mostly selfies or pets. Rarely, there is an actual update on what someone did/is doing. I’m wondering if someday we’ll realize that most of us live pretty ordinary every day lives, so we’ll stop sharing and just obsess over celebrities
    Lives. Oh, wait…
    Donna
    Prettysparklythings on blogspot

  • http://www.mariannepaul.wordpress.com/ Marianne Paul

    My facebook status is just a pathetic queuing of my fashion thoughs in an braindead version…Few samples: Photos of children, food, shoes or clothes and the killing comment “Looooove”!

  • http://twitter.com/SwCatwalks Naina

    This one time, at band camp, I realized that e.coli was seriously but would have still provided comic relief for everyone reading. But also sad because, unlike with broccoli, you cannot make an e.coli casserole.

    SIDEWALKCATWALKS.com

  • K C

    My eyes just got really watery from yawning. I’m thaaaat tired.

  • http://twitter.com/laststraggler thelaststraggler

    My mind has been on the native Indians since my latest post on these fascinating people; http://thelaststraggler.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/poignant-beauty-national-museum-of-the-american-indian/ . I’m also thinking yay its sunny as the sun is making a rare appearance in London Town

  • Belén Cavas Hernández
  • Sara

    What’s on my mind is that status updates are a disease. Not everyone contracts it but it’s certainly contagious for some susceptible (dare I say weaker?) individuals.
    Anyone who routinely updates their status field on how tired they are on a Monday morning what they’re cooking for dinner on a random Tuesday night or come Wednesday say how they can’t wait for the weekend should be reported to the thought police and sent to SUA (Status Updates Anonymous) for a complete rehab program.

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    I never make status updates. I assume no one cares to know what I am doing all day.

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • http://twitter.com/iadorefilms Aileen Giselle

    My colleague at work mentioned that the generation entering college would be a generation entirely brought up on the internet. Now that is food for thought.

    Great read as always.

  • Restless Blonde

    I was into status changes several years ago… Now, after some experience with people who actually read it and seem to know my life better than me, I just stopped writing anything personal or intimate. I’d rather put a quote of sb smart or a funny pic (yet not presenting myself)…And I am tired with people who write too much and share their toilet life almost ;)

    http://restlessblonde.blogspot.com/

  • Dolly

    On my mind: social media, instead of putting us into touch with more people, seems to have done the opposite whilst also creating a sense of competition whereby we have started focusing more on what other people are doing than realising our own goals.

    Thinking of one friend in particular, I’ve been over to her house many times for dinner parties, where both her and her fiance will be constantly on facebook updating their status. There seems constant need for comments and reassurance, plus often verbal comments made by others are passed off as their own. I’m used to it now but no need to participate.

  • DTC

    But why have I not thought of this??

  • http://teacupsandbcups.com/ nicole | teacups + B cups

    Every time we get a notification, we get a squirt of dopamine. Facebook is like electric cocaine for some, and the means they’ll go to get it include updates of potty-training successes and the usual farmers market finds. I call those addicts the people that suck at facebook, compliments of The Oatmeal’s practical guide on How to Suck at Facebook.

  • Monique Dundas

    LOL at this post! and you’ve now introduced me to my new favorite site….awesome.

  • Behind the Mirror

    So obviously after reading I went to my facebook to look at my last update, which read “I imagine a land where I wouldn’t have allergies only to realize it would look like the pridelands after Scar took over & the herds moved on.” It still greatly amuses me… perhaps no one else… haha, but that’s totally cool….

  • http://www.profliagtes.com kaylabarnespr.com

    Great points made, but I would have to agree, what were Kate’s boyfriends shower thoughts?