Vaguebooking. Stop It Please!

I just have too many social media pet peeves—overload of hashtags, overload of “food photography“, overly offensive commentary, overly loving parents, overshare of relationship problems or public displays of affection, overshare of checked in locations, over-hating, over-loving  etc. etc. As I’m sure y’all can see, it is the act of over-sharing itself that makes these minor annoyances major pet peeves for many. Frankly speaking, I enjoy seeing creative hashtags, photos of beautifully crafted sushi plates, unique opinions, photos of children being loved, small insight into my friends’ love life, new eateries to visit, etc. etc. But it is the mere frequency of them that make them anticipated nuisances. And while I know all of these posts are individuals’ way of securing their online identity and their method of empowering themselves, they seem to me more like a channel for them to invent a separate and “better” identity via these social networks. Personally, I believe that it is the excess of it all just creates this aura of “fakeness”.

I do however applaud them for not holding back. At least when these individuals over-share or “facebrag“, we as the audience have a genuine idea of what they like, what they hate, and what their lives revolve around. Sharing too much may be trying too hard, but as least we can see that their intentions are simply to share.

Now what ticks me off even more than this concept of over-sharing is when people try to hide it subtly. The key word here is ‘try’. If you don’t already know what kind of posts I mean when I speak of subtle oversharing, here are some examples:

“OMG! Good news on its way!”; “Today may be my last day…”; “It’s been a month since you’ve called me…”; “;airynpewuigacij;nisd I hate you so much!”; “Yes, the answer is yes!”; “Why can’t you just grow a pair and ask already.”

Vaguebooking

Cue eye-roll and audible sigh.

Vaguebooking is when people intentionally or “unintentionally” post extremely ambiguous statuses to garner comments and likes, basically eliciting any form of responses from the present audience. These individuals try to drop hints or insinuate ideas through their posts in efforts to gain sympathy, concern, or attention. They are the posts that make many of us think “what in the world does that mean?” or “who the hell are they directing this to?” or “who the hell is this about?”. They make us curious for that one split second until we remember not to fall into that very trap for the millionth time. It is as Dave Parrack states in his article, “What is the Imbecilic Art of Vaguebooking?”

There was a time when people kept diaries in order to express their innermost thoughts and feelings, and the entries for some days will have taken the form of emotional pleas to no one in particular. Diaries have now largely been superseded by social networks, and it’s much easier to put out a subtle cry for help on one of these.

Social media sites are essentially online diaries for many individuals now. They see Facebook, Twitter, etc. as platforms to talk about themselves and share their lives through. Being “online” however, has decontextualized the meaning of diaries. Diaries are meant to be personal. You speak to yourself, to your future self, and to no one else.

Diary

However, allowing this concept of diary-writing to merge with online blogs and social media completely transforms its meaning and traditional personal context to that of a shared activity. The virtuality, which is as Don Slater describes “a space of representation in which all one’s senses are exposed to coordinated representations such that the experience is completely immersive and the participant can respond to stimuli as if to a real world”, is what provides the participatory and interactive characteristics of the Internet. As Michael Welsch states in his lecture, “When media changes, human relationships change. Media mediates human relationships.”  This emergence of social media platforms lead to humans seeking even more connectivity. While bringing on their own identity, they also seek relationships with those around them. To them, these social media platforms are their coffeehouses, where they contribute their own opinions while receiving it back. The difference is that on Facebook, Twitter, etc. individuals share their lives with mostly friends instead of strangers. This difference is what ultimately drove over-sharing and  vaguebooking into existence. The thought that one’s friends won’t judge makes us feel as if we don’t need to hold back.

But guess what vaguebookers, we do judge! Everyone judges. The lesson for you to learn is that context collapse exists, as confirmed by Nicole EllisonDana Boyd, and Michael Welsch. Context collapse occurs when there is”an infinite number of contexts collapsing upon one another into that single moment of recording” (Welsch). Even though we do sympathize for you, have some concern, and are curious, the reason why we often times roll our eyes at your vaguebooking statuses is because you do it on a social media platform that is well-known for it. Through Facebook’s features, we can see collectively that you vaguebook consistently as do many others. We really just don’t have the time to give every attention-seeking or drama-seeking “friend” our pity. So please just stop

 

 

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