Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chart It!

My dear friends, I have a confession to make. I have been lying to each and every one of you. Every word that I have ever communicated to you has been a carefully crafted deception intended solely to manipulate. I have knowingly, indeed gleefully, violated whatever degree of trust you thought existed between us and made gullible fools of you all merely for my own selfish personal amusement.

Well, actually all that was an extreme exaggeration. What I did do was little personal exercise for fun with my facebook "friends". For about the same random, inexplicable reason I decided to chart the punctuation of all my last facebook birthday greetings, I thought I'd play a little game with my status updates.

It all started back on September 13th when I threw out a random observation I had about the snack I was eating at work ("For me string cheese always seems to taste better after its been strung. I think the pulling apart process unlocks some special flavor element. I have no hard proof of this so I guess it's just string theory."), it tallied a modest 3 likes and a comment from my pool of friends. Now I'm not a real heavy user of facebook. I probably check it about a couple times a day, use it to receive and send out invitations, and of course relay new blog entries (like this one right now). I usually stay away from the status bar. However the next day I felt compelled to throw another quick observation out there ("'Innocence of Muslims' has got to be the worst received film ever. Even the violent protests over 'Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2' was less wide spread."). 

It was after that I decided to see how far I could keep this streak going. I committed myself to throw out one quick status update a day as long as at least one person liked or commented on it. Considering I was just tossing up whatever esoteric thought I had in my head around lunchtime at work, I figured this activity would last like a week tops. Interestingly enough, despite a few close call days, it actually lasted exactly one entire month from September 13th to October 13th after my criticism about the new Kevin James movie ("Here Comes The Shamelessly Derivative Kevin James Movie") had as poor a debut as the movie itself (though if you ask me, this is the kind of feel good, PG, movie that just sticks around for weeks and becomes a sneaky hit).

Some quick takeaways from all this:
  • If I were to give an official name to the activity I was engaging it, it would be "like fishing". I just threw a line out there and later checked to see what nibbles I caught. Some days were more prolific than others and it was often surprising the random people that would give up a like.
  • Related to that, there is no way to predict how any update will go over. It's an exercise in futility to predict who will like a certain update; also why are you taking updating so seriously?  
  • Facebook "likes" are extremely devalued. They may very well be the weakest form of human contact so no need to get too excited. Can anyone think of a more insubstantial way to acknowledge a person's existence? There is almost no message or significance attached to it other than I suppose at least mild agreement with someone's update message. Compare that to the complex and heavy connotations of the old Facebook "poke".
  • Since likes are so casual, it is more difficult to avoid someone giving an update a like; unless you're one of those inane people who update the most mundane details of their daily lives like when they're going to bed or if they're going on a run. In that case most of your friend have likely long since blocked you on their feed.
  • Although likes are inherently of little value, the quantity of likes may indicate substantial value. Certain thresholds of likes are usually indicative of substantial updates. I never broke double digit likes during my month and I shouldn't have given how pointless my updates were. But, a new baby update or a graduation post or even some indirect call for sympathy from your friends during a difficult time should garner at least double digit likes. With further research I'm sure someone could make a scale of minimum likes (ex. babies = 15, marriages = 25, etc.) factoring in for total amount of friends.
  • Comments to status updates are worth at least two possibly three likes. When someone comments that they wish they could like an update more than once, they have done the equivalent by commenting. It's a huge barrier to cross to actually write something in response to someone. 
  • Facebook has the potential to be a tremendous waste of time. 

As for any future status updates from me, I will be going back to my usual schedule of "whenever the mood strikes me", although now that I've made everyone completely self conscious of their liking behavior I'm not really sure what to expect in terms of future likes. Good thing all this really doesn't matter much. 

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