With the current kerfuffle about Facebook making us all huff and sigh, it seemed appropriate to delve a little deeper into who, as Facebook users, we are. I see Facebook users and their friends to be not unlike Venn diagrams where, although I only have 161 friends, it’s quite amazing how many subset worlds I can peek into. I’m well aware of how I use Facebook, and what I use it for, but I actively started paying attention to how other people put it to use. As such, I have come up with a typology for Facebook users, and typologies are just so much fun, I’m sure you’ll agree.
1. The Information Vomiter.
There appears to be nothing sacred in this user’s life that they do not apparently feel compelled to post on Facebook. No topic is safe, not day to day existence, nor relationships, nor children, nor death, nor illness etc… Sometimes it’s quite the shocking status to me. I can’t imagine blurting my every feeling, woe or joy into the world’s forum. So what do they seek from such intimate sharing? Are they bored, or lonely? Psychically stagnating? Perhaps it’s that sharing so deeply somehow validates their day.
2. The Fweeter.
Some of the users out there use Facebook as a more personal Twitter. They Fweet. “Brad is at Five Stone Statues Club with Hermann Dunkelmeier.” Yes, the Fweeter is a heavy Check-In user. It’s all about where, who and what doing. “Tinkerbell is eating Ahi Tuna at Slim’s Cosmopolitan Cabana with Captain Hook and Anthony Svenson.” or even more common: “Telemachus Odysseusson is at [insert international airport].” Fweeeet. We get it. Your lives are way cool, doodes.
3. The Enigmatic Observer.
Here we have someone who’s use of Facebook is essentially to entertain oneself. Their status updates are song lyrics, poetry or prose, quotations, or some other obscure reference which, although it may actually communicate something about how they are feeling, good luck to the rest to figure it out. They watch more than anything else, occasionally comment, occasionally post something of interest. They desperately wish they could shut Facebook down forever, but their Venn diagram voyeuristic tendencies prove too much of a hurdle.
4. The Vicarious Liver.
These FB users live vicariously through their Facebook lives. They post constantly; music videos, YouTube videos, cute pictures of kittens playing violin, health articles, science articles, political articles or something that catches the attention of their friends, intentionally so. So, for example, Angelica Seraphiminos, a well known teetotaller (yes, she indulges in the half glass of wine, but no more) might post that: “Just had a tumbler of Tequila laced with mescal. Sooo going to feel the effects of that tomorrow! @Cupidina don’t you EVER let me do that again!” Duh. These users are usually also hobby or interest hoppers, jumping from one bandwagon to the next, and making sure everyone knows.
5. Hardly Ever
They’re hardly ever there. they don’t use Facebook to glean information about other people’s lives, nor do they post, or do anything interesting at all. They are such a let down. They use it to stay in contact with people, probably send a few private messages now and then, wish their sister a happy birthday, etc… They have lives. And they live them.
6. The Incognitos.
The Incogs are on Facebook, but you wouldn’t know it. This is because they don’t use their real name, for a start. Instead, you will find them under “Pinecone Elephant”, with a picture of a lamp-post as their profile photo. They have at most five friends, because no-one else has a clue they’re there. And they’re really not, because their hearts aren’t in it, so they really may as well drop into the last category.
7. The Shadow
This category is actually the one category that is NOT on Facebook.Gasp. That’s right. They do not have a profile. They have abstained. However, (finger wagging) by the very fact that they are not on Facebook, they somehow impinge on the rest of us. Think about it. Facebook is part of our daily existence. Therefore they cannot engage with part of our lives, and that makes them anomalous, and interesting. You might call them archaic, eccentric, or just weird. But they do exist.
So there you go, a nice, solid typology of 7. Of course, as with any typology, you might exhibit traits of two types, or you might have changed type over time. Also, there are many other little FB tendencies that are scattered all over the place. For example, why do some users frequently use a photo not of themselves as their profile pic? This is not restricted to the Incognitos. Pictures of animals, movie characters, avatars, cartoons, cars, toys, symbols, etc… are all used as a replacement for the person’s face. Feeling low? Lacking confidence? Or the way a wall post can spark a comment war, 128 comments later. The comments are usually infinitely more entertaining than the original post. People just get so het up.
Who knows how and if the new Facebook changes will alter the way we interact. I hear we’re meant to become more emotionally involved with each other. Mercy.