How Tiny Red Dots Took Over Your Life

Excerpt from this article:

What’s so powerful about the dots is that until we investigate them, they could signify anything: a career-altering email; a reminder that Winter Sales End Soon; a match, a date, a “we need to talk.” The same badge might lead to word that Grandma’s in the hospital or that, according to a prerecorded voice, the home-security system you don’t own is in urgent need of attention or that, for the 51st time today, someone has posted in the group chat.

Your Status Hijacking Game Is NOT About Cancer Awareness

Excerpt from this article, about which Paul Matheson asked me to share this comment – “These awareness games do not make anyone Do anything”:

“It’s confirmed! I’m going to be a daddy” reads a friend’s Facebook status update. So I click the ‘Like’ button and type “Congrats!” into the comments.

Seconds later, I get this message sent to my Inbox:

Lol , you should not have liked or commented. Now you have to pick from one of these below and post it as your status. This is THE 2015 BREAST CANCER AWARENESS game. Don’t be a spoil sport, pick your poison from one of these and change your status, 1) Diarrhea again?! 2) Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket 3) How do you get rid of foot fungus 4) No toilet paper, goodbye socks. 5) I think I’m in love with someone, what should I do? 6) I’ve decided to stop wearing underwear 7) it’s confirmed, I’m going to be a Mommy/Daddy! 8)Just won £900 on a scratch card. 9) I’m getting married. Post with no explanations. So sorry, I fell for it too. Looking forward to your post. Shhh don’t ruin it!

…The more I think about this, the more offensive it is. My sister is recovering from breast cancer. My mother died from cancer. How is this manipulative status hijacking “game” about raising awareness for breast cancer?

…The ice bucket challenge was important in another way: it forced action and donations as integral parts of the awareness campaign, resulting in millions of dollars being raised for research into a cure for ALS.

By contrast, this thoughtless Facebook status hijacking game has not raised one cent; has not educated about early detection or treatment. It has done nothing, except get people’s backs up.

The Facebook Breakup

Illustration: Rodrigo Corral

Excerpt from this article:

For Kate Sokoloff, a brand strategist in Portland, Ore., the Facebook mirror of her breakup with her boyfriend of three years was like “an emotional sucker punch,” she said. “Not 15 minutes after we broke up four years ago, and probably while he was still parked outside of my house, he changed his status to ‘single.’”

A breakup has stages of aggressiveness, said Morgan Smith, 18, a freshman at Northwestern University.

“If you block your ex on every platform, that’s like 10 on the scale,” she said. “If I cut my ex off on Facebook, it’s also too much negative energy on my part. I want to extend a polite opening for the future. I don’t want to see what you do every day with your life” — as on Snapchat, for example — “but if you’re accepted to the study-abroad program or become class president, I would like to congratulate you. Facebook is more of a long-term document of your life.”

For Madeline Kaufman, 20, a journalism student at Northwestern, her Facebook breakup was like a game of digital chicken. It took her four months to “break up” with her long-term boyfriend on Facebook, though they had done so in the real world.

“He kept his status ‘in a relationship’ for another two months,” she said. “It was a weird ‘letting go’ concept I had to get over, and was weirdly hard for me to do. But I guess in that respect I may have ‘won’ because I took mine down first.”

You Already Knew Parents Post on Facebook More Than Others. Now Find Out How Much

Getty Images

Excerpt from this article:

Some of the more interesting findings came from its U.S.-based study. For instance, new American moms post 2.5 times more status updates, 3.5 times more photos and 4.2 times more videos than nonparents, per Facebook’s internal stats. And hey, the updates work: New parents’ posts (those from moms or dads) about their babies get 37 percent more interactions from family members and 47 percent more interactions from friends than their general posts.

“Parenting has become a digitally shared experience… Technology enables parents to share the joys, challenges and questions inherent in raising a child with their family and friends both near and far on a regular basis. Instead of mailing holiday cards or school pictures, they’re sharing their child’s milestones through photos and video online.”


Pew Research Center Report: Teen Voices – Dating in the Digital Age

This is an excellent report, loaded with tons of focus group verbatims from US teens, illustrating online behaviours from flirting to dating to breaking up:

It was relatively rare for teens in our focus groups to talk about meeting romantic partners online. Some teens explained that they would not trust someone they met online because of the likelihood of misrepresentation, while others were generally distrustful of all strangers online.

You might be catfished.
– High School Boy

Half of all teens (50%) have let someone know they were interested in them romantically by friending them on Facebook or another social media site, and 47% have expressed their attraction by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with that person on social media.

Teens also spoke about social media as an information-gathering tool that helps them find out all sorts of information about a potential partner, like whether they are dating someone or not.

When I have a crush on someone and I want them to know I go on their page and like a lot of pictures in a row.
– High School Girl

On liking a crush’s photos on Instagram: Like all of them. Like, like, like, like, like, like all the pictures. You’re the right cute factor.
– High School Girl

On how girls show interest on Instagram:
Emojis, but the main way you’re going to know is like when they first say ‘hey.’ How many y’s they put on their ‘hey.’ Yeah, they do that a lot.
– High School Boy

Well, if you really putting yourself out there, you could comment on their picture with a heart emoji.
– High School Girl

Teens take a number of steps to show that they are in a romantic relationship with someone, and many of these rituals take place on social media. In our focus groups, teens spoke about the reasons why couples might showcase their relationship on social media, from seeking attention to letting others know that they are now “off the market.”

Yeah. You need to have the padlock emoji with a heart and two people holding hands
– High School Boy

Dear Facebook, stop our smug posts – not the drunken ones

Young women drinking

Excerpt from this article:

Facebook wants to stop this misuse of its apparently dignified network, which is why it is now developing an algorithm to act as your very own “Facebook chaperone”. This system will detect your levels of uninhibited idiocy through certain words and behaviours, and then come up with some sort of warning message, along the lines of, “Are you sure you want your boss and mum to see this?”, before you post. It will guide you through the social media experience smoothly, making sure you don’t shatter the illusion you’ve so carefully created.

But where exactly is the fun in this? Everyone knows that the only genuinely readable parts of Facebook are the inappropriate status changes, the poor judgment played out in cyberspace. Publicised over-shares in front of hundreds of your friends provide a service. They make everybody feel less alone, and remind us all that no one has the life they say they do online.

…Without the inadvisable slip-ups, all we’d have is that obnoxious, self-celebratory optimism, again and again for all eternity – which is why I have to take a firm moral stance against the development of any sort of algorithm that will attempt to prevent people from making these sorts of errors. There are things Facebook should lean over and tap on your shoulder about, but they’re not the drunken indelicacies. They’re the inspirational quotes written across a sunset scene, urging everyone to “find the very core of your self today”… That one would certainly warrant a firm shoulder tap from the overbearing smugness algorithm.

An Open Letter from Your Horrible Facebook Friends

Excerpt from this satire in the New Yorker:

We’re your Facebook friends. Those Facebook friends. You know the ones. The moms who have recently gotten into CrossFit. The club promoters you went to college with. The ex-boyfriend who is legally contesting his firing from Best Buy. Your great aunt in Arizona who signs her comments, “With all my love, Your Great Aunt Marjorie.” The girl who appears to have stayed perpetually pregnant since graduation.

We have a lot to offer the Internet, and we’re exciting friends to have. For instance, we’re unpredictable. Who else is going to tell the corporate Applebee’s page to f**k off and die? Or post random, out-of-context Fall Out Boy lyrics as a status update? We don’t think there’s anything weird about reminding you almost every single day how great our troops are. Are you saying that they aren’t great? Did you see the picture of the Marines that reads, “OK, ISIS, come and get it”? Hell, yeah!

…Did we mention that we’re super-into CrossFit now?

…Let’s make a deal: if you agree to maybe cool it with all the updates about your rooftop garden and your breakfast raves, we’ll try to be less mad about every single thing that Nicki Minaj has ever done or will ever do. But no promises!

So, thank you all for your time, and remember: the dress was white and gold, everything in the Onion should be read completely literally, Kim Kardashian is actually a false-flag operation orchestrated by the C.I.A., and if you don’t share this with ten friends you will have bad luck for seven years.

Map: What we’re thankful for, according to our Facebook posts


Excerpt from this article:

We don’t just tell our family what we’re thankful for at the Thanksgiving table anymore. We post our thanks on Facebook, too — and that gives the data analysts at Facebook a trove of data to analyze about what, exactly, we’re grateful for.

Facebook scraped user updates for status updates containing the words “grateful” and “thankful” this past summer, when a few challenges circulated asking users to post about the things they cherished in their lives. And they found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that Facebook users are most thankful for their friends and families.

What Sex, Food, And Selfies Have To Do With Effective Social Marketing

Excerpt from this article:

In 2010, researchers found that 80% of social media posts were announcements about people’s immediate experiences–Facebook status updates like Joe’s “OMG that is A LOT of snow” are the norm in social feeds. So in 2012, two researchers at Harvard were curious about this and decided to see how self-disclosure affects the brain.

It turns out that talking about our own thoughts and experiences activates the rewards system of the brain, providing that same shot of dopamine we get from sex, food, and exercise. The reward activity in the brain is also much greater when people get to share their thoughts with others.

Simply put, Joe’s wake-up tweet gave his brain pleasure.

What’s on your mind?

Excerpt from this article:

People use status updates to share what’s on their minds, to tell others what they’re doing, and to gather feedback from friends. The different ways people use status updates form some interesting patterns. In this study, we looked at the usage of words in different “word categories” in status updates. This led us to discover some patterns in how people use status updates differently, and how their friends interact with different status updates.