My Facebook Status is… Meta

I love checking the status of all my Facebook contacts. I do this whenever I’m bored or need a distraction. I can check them on my phone, so proximity to a computer isn’t a requirement. And, since categorizing things is what I do, I’ve noticed some patterns.

Types of Facebook Status

(Note: All examples are completely made up. Any similarity to any of my Facebook buddies is purely coincidental.)

  1. Cryptic – no one knows what your status means, but it shows off your creative and/or mysterious side. Ex: Rachel is indefatigable.
  2. TMI – sometimes people don’t need to know what you’re up to. Ex: Rachel is getting drunk and going home with strangers.
  3. Inside Joke – only a few people know what your status means, everyone else is saying “huh?” Ex: Rachel is missing blue boy, already.
  4. Meta – you’re breaking down the fourth wall. Ex: Rachel is checking Facebook on the train.
  5. Mood-based – describes how you’re feeling. Ex: Rachel is bored.
  6. Activity-based – describes what you’re doing. Ex: Rachel is shopping.
  7. Location-based – describes where you are. Ex: Rachel is in Washington.
  8. Health-based – describes your physical or mental state. Ex: Rachel is coughing, again.

These types are not mutually exclusive. Someone’s status can be TMI and Activity-based. But everyone’s status fits into at least one of these categories. Want to know the breakdown of the 65 status updates of my Facebook contacts?

  1. Cryptic – 12
  2. TMI – 7
  3. Inside Joke – 9
  4. Mood – 14
  5. Meta – 0 (but trust me, I’ve seen them)
  6. Activity – 12
  7. Location – 6
  8. Health – 5

For the purpose of this tally, I only counted each status once. So, if something was an Inside Joke and Location-based, I only counted it as an Inside Joke. I also think I should point out that two (!!) of my contacts attributed their mood (deliriously happy and excited) to Project Runway. I didn’t put it in my status, but I have to agree.

4 thoughts on “My Facebook Status is… Meta

  1. Dennis

    I dont think the example for cryptic was actually cryptic… doesn’t everyone know what indefatigable means? Now, if you used a _made-up_ word… “Rachel is indefattable” (rachel can’t get fat? or.. ??) now *that’s* cryptic! 🙂

  2. Rachel

    Well, I think there’s a range of possibilities from “slightly cryptic” to “completely obscure.” You might know what the word “indefatigable” means, but you would probably be a little puzzled as to why it’s my status at that moment.

  3. Doug Pokorny

    Quite comprehensive and accurate, until one considers the paradoxes inherent in hybrid messages. True, a statistically significant categorization would require numerous random selections and analyses, even though trends may become intuitively clear before this quantification, especially among people who post with a penchant for staying in one mode or another. If one person knows the context (say, that Rachel is thinking obsessively about something that may happen, (she might be selected as the next American Idol), but has not yet happened, Rachel’s literary friend might post as status Macbeth when he says “And nothing is but what is not,” meaning that to Rachel mundane, objective reality is overwhelmed in her mind by the compulsive subjective ideation about a mere possibility, which is “not” yet and might never be. Thus the allusionist is at once cryptic, and, at the same time, communicating simple “inside baseball” to one in the know, i.e. if Rachel applies Macbeth’s paradox to herself. And how would antilogies such as “This statement is false” be evaluated? Meta, I suppose. What is a message that responds literally to the “What’s on your mind?” prompt with something like the answer, “meninges”? (This, of course is predicated on a reductionist notion that the mind-brain relationship is in relativistic harmony in the same way that light as photon particles and light as waveform energies are both true.) I post Meta messages frequently out of the same impulse that makes me want to create in the reader a sensitivity (and even better in your case, both the sensitivity and the analytical classification, creating order out of chaos. For me it’s often just impish fun, the result of an urge to be simultaneously literal and cryptic at the same time. It brings up the “Observer Effect”; if one categorizes the hybrid discourse in only one way, it reflects the interpreter’s consciousness at least as much as the one who posits it. Deconstructionists do this all the time to the consternation of all the people who, like myself, are not cognitive atheists, locked up in the prison house of language. Their argument is ultimately non-falsifiable and therefore not really any more convincing
    to me than, say, astrology; but they should be considered. I really enjoy what you’ve done here, Jason. I’ll apply your paradigm to what I read, and get back to you. I’m tickled at you good humor and funny examples as much as I am at your sterling analyses and syntheses.

  4. Rachel

    Doug, You make some intersting points. And certainly, when I originally wrote this, I didn’t take into account the type of status message where a person is purposefully experimenting with language and signification on multiple levels. Of course, with the onset of Twitter, I think the nature of the way people use Facebook status has probably changed slightly, but I haven’t reanalyzed it since I originally posted this.

    I’m curious, why did you address me as Jason? Or were you addressing someone else in the middle of your comment?

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