One of the main points of Facebook, is that it allows us to present ourselves to the world in a way that suits us. We choose a profile picture that summarises us, we write on our page about the things that are important to us, and we add our friends and our careers so that people can quickly get an idea of who we are and how we spend our time.
The irony though, is that often we end up saying something entirely different about ourselves in the process. The problem is that a lot of us are so transparently self-conscious on Facebook that we end up lying about who we are in a way that makes it plainly obvious. Thus people will make some quite different assumptions about who we are, and we’ll find that we end up giving entirely the wrong impression.
If you want to know what people really think of your Facebook page then, you need to take a step back and look at it as an outsider. Here we will look at some of the things you might be inadvertently communicating about yourself through your Facebook page, and at how you can correct the image that you put out there on the interwebs.
Narcissism, for those who don’t know, is essentially vanity taken to the extreme. Narcissistic people tend to be somewhat in love with themselves (like the Greek legend of Narcissus) and will find themselves good looking, funny and intelligent. The sad part though is that often they only turn their love in on themselves because they have been hurt by others in the past – the idea being that they use this affection towards themselves to become entirely self-sufficient and independent and they’re actually usually very insecure.
Being a narcissist then isn’t an entirely good thing, and it’s not a reputation you want to perpetuate. But if you are changing your Facebook profile on a near-daily basis, or if you’re constantly updating your status it might well seem to others that there’s a bit of ‘self-love’ going on there. This is particularly likely if the pictures you upload are ‘selfies’ – those pouting self-portraits that people take using the front-facing camera or the bathroom mirror. Avoid basking in your own beauty then, and try to include other people in your profile in some shape or form.
I’m just going to come out with it: Instagram is pretentious. Sure it can be fun to add a filter to a photo of your friends every now and then, but if you constantly take photos of empty Coke cans against the night sky using it, then people are going to get tired of your preening pretty quickly.
Likewise, if you constantly talk about your amazing travels to Arabia (where you take photos of yourself laughing with the locals or gazing off into the sunset), or if you write long notes of poetry, then people are going to know that you just want their approval. There’s nothing wrong with being artistic or cultured or creative, but there are plenty of other communities out there for that and all your friends don’t want to hear your musings on the wonder of rose petals.
There are countless ways that you can come off as attention seeking on Facebook, but one of the worst is to sulk online and write cryptic posts about how tough your life is. If something genuinely hard is happening to you, then you should phone a friend and not write about it online where everyone you’ve ever known can read it. And if you are going to turn to your Facebook friends for help, then make sure that you actually explain what’s going on – if it’s a cryptic message then you’ll just further betray the fact that you only really want attention.
‘Miss Attention Seeker: Just wishes that people weren’t so hurtful.’
No, we don’t think you’re hard-done by and a trooper; we think you’re attention seeking and annoying…
The reason that some people might make those attention seeking statuses could genuinely be because they’re lonely (this is sad, but no way to deal with the problem). Likewise, loneliness might also lead you to write to people that you don’t really know (cringe), or to have zero photos of yourself on Facebook. It’s not a competition, but if your Facebook is completely devoid of tags then people are going to assume that you don’t really leave the house much…
The same goes for angry rants. If I’m flicking through my Facebook in the morning while I drink my first cup of tea before getting up, I do not want to be greeted by a barrage of swear words as someone rants at their friend/ex/the government/their car. If it’s a funny rant then that’s fine, but if it’s a genuinely angry one then once again it has no place on Facebook. You’ll just come across as angry and even impotent because the fact you’re writing on Facebook will show you have no power to deal with the problems.
Did you know that students and young people in general are more likely than anyone else to update their status often? According to researchers the reason for this is that they have a tendency to ‘overvalue the importance of their opinions’. Again, it’s good to have opinions, it’s just not good to think that your school friends from twenty years ago want to hear them. Become a politician, don’t update your status all the time.
Then there are the people that post a million pictures of themselves in amazing locations and constantly ‘check in’ at the latest bars, or who write statuses about how they were hanging out with Jay-Z and J-Lo through their work. If you’re one of those, then again it’s worth bearing in mind that most people won’t be impressed so much as annoyed. If you wish to incite eye-rolling then go ahead and post about every little thing you do, otherwise don’t be so ostentatious…
And know as well that showing off doesn’t just apply to people who travel a lot – it can be just as much of an issue with people who have babies or who were recently married. Posting a few pictures is normal, posting thousands and making it your every status update just makes it seem as though you’re trying to show off your perfect life – which will make people question just how ‘perfect’ that life really is.
If you want to come off well on Facebook then, it’s really all about being genuine and posting for no motivation other than wanting to post. If you try and ‘craft’ an image, then a lot of people will see through that and they will judge you accordingly. That said though, do also moderate what you post to a degree – make sure that everything you publish on Facebook is essentially positive, and avoid posts that will make people feel angry or frustrated. If you have a genuine concern, then share it with your friends in private – not on Facebook.
That leaves just the things you are tagged in by other people, and the amusing asides or interesting posts you feel like sharing throughout the day. Keep it real, and remember that not everyone wants to see your profile pop up on their feed every two minutes: less is certainly more.