what kind of facebooker are you? or, how (and how not) to facebook

The Facebook page of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

The Facebook page of Dr. Robert R. Cargill

what kind of facebooker are you? how do you use facebook? what kind of facebooker annoys you the most? these are the questions addressed by a new cnn article by brandon griggs entitled, ‘the 12 most annoying types of facebookers.’

i’ve been on facebook since early in 2005, when a couple of my pepperdine students, amy rogg and austin maness, turned me on to the social networking service. from the very beginning, i used facebook to reach out to students and to learn their names and faces. as an instructional tool, i felt it allowed me to reach students where they are and on their terms. i would create a facebook group for each course i taught, and would ask them to join it. i left hints about when a pop quiz ‘might’ take place or what ‘might’ be on the exam as an incentive to join the group. they found that they could ask me questions about the course materials and message one another. some used the facebook group to organize study groups. at the end of the first week, i knew all of their names, and they all knew each other. of course, at times, i learned a bit too much about them (like how hung over they were or who made out with whom), but it was a way to get the class to engage a required course they might otherwise not enjoy.

according to griggs, the types of facebookers are as follows:

  1. the let-me-tell-you-every-detail-of-my-day bore
  2. the self-promoter
  3. the friend-padder
  4. the town crier
  5. the tmi-er
  6. the bad grammarian
  7. the sympathy-baiter
  8. the lurker
  9. the crank
  10. the paparazzo
  11. the maddening obscurist
  12. the chronic inviter
Dr. Robert Cargill's office workstation at UCLA's Center for Digital Humanities

Dr. Robert Cargill's office workstation at UCLA's Center for Digital Humanities

i’d like to offer a bit of commentary on each of the 12 types of facebookers:

what i am:

#2 – ‘the self-promoter’ – as one who uses my blog to write more developed thoughts on the issues of the day, and who then cross-links my blog with twitterfeed to update my twitter, which in turn is linked to update my facebook automatically, all of which is meta tagged to maximize google alerts and placement in search rankings, i must concede that i am a ‘self-promoter.’ (the fact that my facebook feeds this very article is evidence of this designation.)

#3 – ‘the friend-padder’ – as an early adopter who encouraged students from pepperdine, azusa pacific, portland state, and ucla to join the facebook groups i created for each of my classes, and as one who uses facebook as an alumni tool for friends from madera and bullard high school, fresno city collegefresno state, pepperdine, and ucla, i somehow have amassed well over 1000 facebook friends. with the addition of my asor, sbl, and professional colleagues that use facebook, coupled with the folks that add me because they saw me on history or discovery channel, i fit the definition of a ‘friend-padder.’

#4 – ‘the town crier’ – as one who posts just about every story i find interesting or funny on fb, i am definitely a version of a ‘town crier.’ i like to give my friends something fun or interesting to read or watch on my page, and i love the random banter and feedback each of the stories generate. but i don’t report everything, especially celebrity gossip. (i leave that to tmzperez, and philip defranco.) i report on politics, religion, and absurdities. pick something you know about and become the go-to place for info on those topics.

#11 – ‘the maddening obscurist’ – i admit it: i do this. that is because i find communication to an individual through communication to the general public a fascinating literary phenomenon. it’s like a double entendre (of which i am also a fan), but without the sex (of which i… never mind). if done properly, maddening obscurity is literally saying two things at once. i prefer to call it ‘intentional ambiguity.’ disney does it all the time; they write jokes that kids get on one level, but that mean something entirely different to the parents watching at the same time. just about every status update i leave has two intended audiences and two intended interpretations, because why waste words? (especially in a twitter environment where one only gets 140 characters!) say two things at once! tell the public one thing while you tell that certain someone exactly how you feel (because you know she’s watching ;-). but avoid the obvious; don’t post something like, ‘a certain someone needs to back off,’ because that’s transparent and petty. instead, post a status that reads more like, ‘time to make like a shepherd and get the flock out of here.’ is it about me, or about him? answer: it’s intentionally ambiguous, preserving plausible deniability (but trust me, he knows).

what i am not:

#1 – ‘the let-me-tell-you-every-detail-of-my-day bore’ – this is essentially twitter, and twitter is facebook without the functionality. to be quite honest, i don’t really care what you’re doing at this very moment unless it is clever, hilarious, or monumental. i don’t care that you’re sitting in your office. i don’t care what you had for lunch. i don’t care that you’re ‘working on my latest book.’ (finishing it would impress me more.) i want something that makes me think, makes me laugh, or compels me to comment. make me respond, ‘well played,’ or, ‘touché.’ in turn, i’ll spare you the lesser details of my life.

#5 – ‘the tmi-er’ – on the heels of #1, i don’t want graphic details of your emotional state or what came out in your turds (unless it is monumental, in which case, see my comments on #1). just as i don’t want you to bore me with mindless blather, neither do i want to hear the excruciating details of your day. i can’t even make it through those sappy inspirational emails that get sent around as spam. (sorry mom!) tmi-ers are essentially spammers on facebook, and they should go the way of all flesh immediately.

#6 – ‘the bad grammarian’ – i am not a poor grammarian, as i prefer to portray a sense of intentionally exaggerated erudition when i write. however, i usually forgive spelling mistakes in rapid-fire exchanges, comments on facebook, or obvious spelling errors. what i do reserve the right to tease about are the misuses of idioms, grammar, and errors with homonyms, all of which betray a sense of ignorance and a lack of education that does not convey a sense of credibility when arguing a position on facebook. nothing is more embarrassing than arguing to me how government-run health care is a ‘nazzi’ initiative. check your spelling before you hit ‘share.’ it is better to spell properly and have people think you’re an idiot than to misspell and remove all doubt.

what i hate:

#7 – ‘the sympathy baiter’ – no, no, no! just stop it! i do not come to facebook to be a counselor and i am not a mercy magnet. i certainly do not want my facebook experience to become a chore. this should be a fun place, so please do not play the ‘woe-is-me’ card. if you do, be prepared for silence. if you want to reach out for real sympathy, do so with a private message.

#8 – ‘the lurker’ – voyeurs, peeping toms, and unwanted stalkers are the reason god created friends lists and privacy restrictions (well, mark zuckerberg at least). granted, there will always be folks looking at your page that you don’t necessarily want looking (especially when you don’t want to hurt their feelings by un-friending or blocking them). but, facebook will never offer stats on who’s watching whom, because that would creep everyone out and everyone would stop using facebook. (if sally knew that tommy was checking out all 700 of her photos, either sally would be creeped or tommy would be embarrassed, and either one or both would leave. facebook doesn’t want that, so don’t expect stats like you have on your blog ever!) don’t be creepy and don’t obsess. there are plenty of other boys and girls just as narcissistic self-obsessed as the one you’re stalking for you to visit hourly.

#8a – ‘the inappropriate poster’ – here is a bonus category not found on the cnn article. beyond the lurkers are the ‘inappropriate posters,’ who write posts on your wall that you find yourself deleting immediately afterward. some people are just vulgar or rude. but other ‘inappropriate posters’ do far worse in a seemingly innocent way. ‘inappropriate posters’ are the reason you use facebook mobile: so you can delete the post from that girl you hooked up with that one night before that other girl you’re interested in reads it. in fact, ‘inappropriate posters’ are the reason you can now turn off your facebook wall.

#9 – ‘the crank’ – i don’t like being around cranky people in real life. why would i want to be anywhere near them online? unless you are being hyperbolic, or using crankiness to make a ranting point (which had better be clever or hilarious like lewis black), don’t be cranky. like desperation, people can smell crankiness a mile away, and folks tend to avoid it.

#10 – ‘the paprazzo’ – this is a fundamental no-no. one must *think* before one posts a photo (especially if one tags it, making it visible on the tagged person’s wall). never post illegal activity. never post pix of you kissing anybody(!) unless you are married and never getting divorced. for one, next week when she dumps you, all of the girls who may have been potentially interested in you will have that kiss image in their minds and will despise you. likewise, don’t rub it in. so your boyfriend is hott. ladies, nothing makes other girls hate you more than when you paper your walls with pictures of you kissing biff hunko. save the dda (digital displays of affection) for another day. besides, if you two could *really* make a hott and sexy photo, it should be too hott for facebook, right? there is nothing more provocative than an album full of photos where two cute folks that are just smiling and looking at the camera as if to say, ‘these are the only pictures we can put online ;-). you go ahead and post your little online kissy-face pictures. our relationship is so hott, it’s ‘offline hott.’ so all you get to see are these teasers of us smirking in front of the beach where we later… [brown chicken brown cow].’

#10a – ‘the picture commenter’ – this is another bonus category. please, for the love of all that is holy and digital, don’t comment on the lovey-dovey photos of folks that aren’t you unless you are saying something to the effect of ‘omg u2 r sooo cute!!’ commenting anything other than something positive on another’s photo of affection is nothing more than pissing on a wall to mark your territory. don’t do it – you look pathetic and desperate, and reveal to others how pathetic and desperate you really are. if you really want to make a point, post a picture of you kissing his boyfriend. don’t comment on their picture unless you have something nice to say.

#12 – ‘the chronic inviter’ – this particular facebooker is so annoying, i have a disclaimer on my facebook page that says i never add group invitations, new apps, or events, just so i can point to it when they write me to complain and ask why i didn’t join. i will add just about anyone (even if they do go straight into my limited  ‘acquaintances’ list that can only read my notes, my wall, and see a few pix of me doing benign things), but just because i don’t join your ‘dog rescue’ advocacy group doesn’t mean that i eat puppies for dinner. i don’t add things that take up space on my already overly-full profile. invite people as friends. if they don’t add you, wait a few months. if they reject you again, stop pestering them. if you use facebook to sell things, raise money from strangers, or ask people to join some group because you believe if 100,000 people join, some nun in india will give free computers to children with no electricity, you are delusional and warrant an immediate, naturally-selective extinction.

be smart:

remember, be a smart facebooker. be clever. be entertaining. i appreciate good humor, sincere praise, a well-argued point (even if i disagree), along with both hyperbole and satire (like stephen colbert‘s ‘the word’ or jim west). i’m not a fan of cynicism. (most cynical people don’t realize it’s a literary genre, they’re just nagging.) i do not like partisanship, intolerant hate speech, or anonymous critics; they are a bunch of cowards who sometimes end up under arrest. show me something i haven’t seen before like artsy pong you can play with your cell phone, or the most recent offering from fail blog, or anything by marina orlova (that’s right, the ‘hot for words‘ girl), or something really rare, like something culturally profound out of fresno. (it’s my hometown, so i can tease.) learn to be a good facebooker and you’ll enjoy the experience more than ever before. and who knows, if you’re clever and funny enough, maybe she’ll finally agree to go out with you.

robert cargill

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6 Responses

  1. I wondered why you only ever posted notes and headshots….

  2. you can see everything, no?

  3. i posted this link on my facebook >.>

  4. fun stuff!

  5. [...] next one is Facebook for all the Facebookers out [...]

  6. I just had to check you out since your marrying my uncle’s daughter. Be good to her. She deserve it. Oh and you’re OK!

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