Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Saturday 13 April 2013

What's On Your Mind?

Or... The Art of the FaceBook Status

I find it hard to believe that my relationship with FaceBook has lasted for as long as six years, but apparently he and I (for he surely is a he), are fast approaching our sixth anniversary together.

It has taken me all that time to amass 300 fellow FaceBookers, whom I’m loath to call friends, despite many of them actually being rather more than acquaintances, simply because that’s what FaceBook calls them.

It has also taken me all of those six long years to learn the art of the status update.

It seems like a simple enough skill doesn’t it? But FaceBook sets a trap, because every time any FaceBooker looks at that damned page, and we all do it all the time, bloody FaceBook asks what appears to be the most innocuous question in the World. It is disingenuous, to say the very least. 

Hours were spent, by sharper minds than mine, formulating that four (or, for the purists, five) word question to sucker people into getting involved and staying involved with the time-pit that is FaceBook. And trust me, anything that sucks time also sucks energy, and anything that sucks energy also sucks money. It sucks lots of money, and all of that money is your money and my money; it’s money that you and I could be bloody earning, when what we’re actually doing is spending time, for which read ‘MONEY’, on sodding FaceBook.

That said, let’s get back to the issue, which is that question, those four (or, for the purists, five) innocent words and that apostrophe, because the contraction is friendlier than the formality of the two words, ‘What is...’, (you see, I told you it was five words), and that question mark. You wouldn’t think that one little punctuation mark could a) cause so much anxious soul searching, b) waste so much bloody time, for which read MONEY, and c) engender the widest variety of dull nonsense known to Man with crappy, catch-all photos, complete with predictable captions, and all of it clich├ęd and/or sentimental tosh. I won’t have a bar of it, I tell you.

To be fair, it’s not as if I mind other people putting this stuff on their walls. I generally skip past a lot of it without much fuss, and, once in a while, something does actually catch my attention or make me laugh. I’ve also become increasingly arbitrary about what I’m prepared to hide from my timeline, which, frankly is quite a lot, including, but not limited to, all things religious, political, racist, sexist, homophobic, irrational, badly worded or in any other way just plain wrong. I most enjoy foreign language status updates, especially those in languages that I do not read, but where I can guess one or two of the words. They entertain me enormously.

I have begun to use the status update as a sort of mini-blog, mostly sparked by other people’s status updates, or by the comments posted on them. It’s a little bit genius, even though I say so myself, and I realise that isn’t modest, and I shouldn’t do it. On the other hand, it did take me the better part of six years to work out this method, so there really isn’t very much to be proud of, now is there?

Anyway, as a consequence of my new, more strategic approach to the status update, for the last week or so, I’ve been posting updates like this one from last night:

I secretly despise people who 'don't let' their grown up partners do whatever the hell they want to do, whether that's having another drink or wearing socks in bed when it's cold, or buying an extravagant garment with the money they earned, or eating the last piece of cake... or any piece of cake... Or doing whatever the hell they like with their own bodies and minds and lives.
  Have some respect for crying out loud! 
     If you don't want to be told what to do, don't expect your so-called love one to enjoy it very much either, and if you find yourself doing an awful lot of telling you might want to think about what your feelings for your 'loved one' really amount to.
  You see... I told you I was full of feist today.

I could have said something much shorter as a comment on someone else’s status update, but it would have got lost on their feed, and been missed by those friends of mine who would have enjoyed it, so I jazzed it up a bit and posted it as a status update of my own, and it absolutely answered the brief, “What’s on your mind?”

Another example would be:

It turns out I don't need a diagram of feet to work out that I'm Celtic, because a) my mother is practically a Pict, and b) now that I've heard about them I desperately want a pack of Mackie's haggis and black pepper crisps, preferably with a whisky mac on the side, made by the husband, who isn't Scottish, but who is, apparently Huguenot French. It's a funny old World. Oh, and for anyone who cares, the foot diagram thing is disturbingly accurate... if you happen to be the result of a lovely little Pictish woman and a big bloke from Norfolk (probably via the Spanish Armada, but we do try not to dwell).

This would not have been funny or personal if I’d left it as a comment on someone else’s update, especially not attached to one of the aforementioned diagrams. It also probably wouldn’t make a good blog, because there isn’t enough substance in it. However, if you’re among my 300 fellow FaceBookers you might know me well enough to find this amusing, and some of you would find it funny enough to actually laugh at it.

So that’s the formula, if you hadn’t already worked it out, for doing a FaceBook update: Use matter from other people’s status updates and make it personal. If you can be funny or sharp or a little bit bad, your fellow FaceBookers, who, after all, are allegedly your friends, will probably love you even more than usual. I know my pinger has never gone off so much as it has since I adopted this method of updating my status.

On the other hand, that’s probably a bad thing, because that’s what FaceBook wants... It wants to sucker me in so that I spend more of my time, for which read MONEY on its bloody website.


Foiled again... By The Man, as usual.

Me? Gullible...

I suppose the answer to that would be yes... But at least, now, I amuse myself with my status updates, and I’m much less anxious about answering that damned question. 

So... What’s on your mind? 


  1. There are haggis crisps? Flavour or flavoured?

    Less importantly I would prefer it if my wife more socks in bed more often; her feet do not retain heat.

    I have to date avoided a Facebook account; however, social media is slowly creeping into my day so at the current progression I will have one by 2015.

  2. you must hide so much of what I'm railing against on my page, or habit of suspending some grammar rules in the process ...

    just as long as you listen to all the music links I post, that's the important stuff :D !

  3. Ah Facebook, my 30 minute a week obligation. I never did like that damn question, because ultimately a lot of what gets said just becomes a white noise backdrop to a flurry of angst filled updates, motivational posters and game requests. I know people who send hours on the damn thing, but I can barely spend a few minutes a day going through the important stuff (thank you preference lists) and catch up with family who are otherwise too far away to visit regularly.

    As for what's on my mind?

    Not enough to justify an update every day.