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Facebook status updates: the new way to brag

Hold onto your hats…I’m on Facebook! I’ve shocked even myself…especially after years of avoiding pretty much all social networking websites (I mean…how many friends do you ACTUALLY need? And those creepy status updates…did narcissism become an acceptable condition when I wasn’t looking?). But recently, a couple of my family members joined Facebook (including my parents – who are in their 60s!) and I was feeling a little left out.

Unfortunately, I only have 11 friends (and 9 of them are relatives), but…whatever. I truly believe that if people knew what they were missing, my email host server would crash from the thousands of friend invitations I’d receive. And though it would be tragic, I’d have no choice but to turn people away (in droves).

For now, however, I’ll have to settle for wondering why my brother-in-law has yet to confirm me as a friend. Hmmff.

Anyway, I recently used the “find friends” tool to search for old High School and College classmates, and low and behold, I found a girl on Facebook whom I was close to in high school but haven’t seen in almost twenty years. So, I shot her an invitation to be “friends” along with a quick note telling her where I lived and that I was married with two kids.

This was her response, “It was great to hear from you! A lot has changed since high school! I’m now a VP and married to a writer! My daughter is a freshman at [an exclusive prep school].”

And that was it.

My first reaction was that it sounded like she was doing well. My second reaction was that it sounded like she was trying REALLY hard to express to me just how well she’s doing. I got this impression for several reasons:

    1.  First, she casually dropped her job title without letting me know what industry she worked in or what company she worked for. I could have understood this more if she’d said, “I’m THE Vice President”…though I’d hope that if this were the case, I would’ve known that before finding her on Facebook.;

    2.  Telling me that she was “married to a writer” instead of “my husband is a writer” conveys to me that she’s more proud of being married to a writer than she is of being married to her husband; and,

    3.  She dropped the name of the exclusive prep school her daughter attends instead of just telling me that she had a daughter in high school. This is especially weird since I live in a different state and wouldn’t know [exclusive prep school] from a juvenile detention facility. At first, I actually thought it must’ve been a highly-selective college (i.e. my daughter was just accepted to Harvard…not…I just forked over $20K so my daughter could attend a posh high school).

Well, I dismissed her note (it WAS an e-mail after all and we’re all guilty of rushing through e-mail correspondence) and went to her Facebook profile. The second thing I noticed on her page (the first being a her picture – she looks the same) was her status update:

“[friend from high school] loves living in [exclusive neighborhood]!”

Again, living 800 miles away doesn’t afford me the specific knowledge of what the hell [exclusive neighborhood] is. For all I knew, it could’ve been a nudist colony. And though I had my suspicions, I searched for [exclusive neighborhood] on the Internet and sure enough, [exclusive neighborhood] is…an exclusive neighborhood.

Why on earth would you put THAT as a status update? To me, it seemed a little boastful (and we all know that Cool Broads aren’t that). But after exchanging a few more e-mails with her my question was answered. I learned that this was her second marriage and a fairly recent one at that. Her new husband was a published author with several books under his belt (one that even landed on the New York Times Best Seller List). I also learned that she and a friend just started up an organizing business (but don’t have any clients yet), and so of course…she’s the Vice President.

So, after being a bit down on her luck, she now gets to send her daughter to an expensive boarding school and live in an expensive neighborhood…and she wants everyone to know it. She might as well have put, “[high school friend] is counting her bags of money” on her status update.

I asked my husband, “Why would someone use his or her status update to brag?”

His response, “Insecurity.”

I read somewhere that Facebook status updates are a good way to tell others some cool things about yourself that can’t easily be worked into a regular conversation. Let me translate that for you, Facebook status updates are an acceptable way to boast to your friends.  Ick.

My two cents: Status updates can be a fun way to express yourself, let friends and family know where you are during your cross-country road trip, or just make others laugh. But they can also be very revealing, so choose your words carefully and think good and hard about whether telling everyone how much you looooove your new BMW is really necessary (or cool).

In just a few sentences, I learned all I needed to know about my old friend and what kind of person she’s grown into. It’s too bad that you can’t view someone’s status updates on Facebook BEFORE inviting then to be your friend…because that single sentence at the top of someone’s profile just might clue you into whether or not they’re worth the invitation.


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Tags: attitude

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16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stacy // Jul 31, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Awww, she’s just excited that she finally gets to have nice things!
    But there are classier ways of doing it, I agree.

  • 2 Monkeytoemomma // Jul 31, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Wow, that is shallow. I would have hurt myself doing exaggerated eye rolls reading her page/email.
    One of my friends conned me into getting a Facebook. My updates usually says stuff like, “Corinne is still in her PJ’s” at 3:00PM. And, I only have 7 friends. *Sniff*

  • 3 Deborah // Jul 31, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Bragging is never cool- doing so on Facebook doesn’t make it any better. Updates are supposed to be innocuous and fun!

  • 4 Frankie // Jul 31, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I just got on to my husband for not accepting your friend request.. and then realized you have more than one brother in law.

  • 5 Emily // Aug 1, 2008 at 12:42 am

    Icky. I do have one friend who posts very businessy updates. I post things like “Emily is going to kill someone if Africa isn’t approved” which probably means nothing to most people but to those closest to me its an honest look at my life – warts and all!

    Now I want to try and find you…. tee hee hee!

  • 6 marit // Aug 1, 2008 at 5:18 am

    sooooo, can i be your friend too?? Pretty please??

  • 7 Lori // Aug 1, 2008 at 9:36 am

    That’s sad, really. That she needs to broadcast such silliness to feel good about herself.

  • 8 thatcoolbroad // Aug 1, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    how ’bout this…if you can find me…we can be friends:)

    hee hee

    hint: my pic is the one on my sidebar

  • 9 thatcoolbroad // Aug 1, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    @ Marit

    I added a new badge!

  • 10 Miss Attitude // Aug 1, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    For me Facebook is like a train wreck, I can’t bring myself to look away. I really don’t like it, but many of my friends are now on it. And they’re not on any of the social media sites I really enjoy (i.e. Plurk). Some have recently mentioned my updates mostly pimp my blog.. well I think that’s better than bragging about how much money I’m spending or why you should be jealous of me.

  • 11 Are “status” decals on your car cool…or not? // Sep 17, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    […] me, they’re a little like boastful Facebook status updates…a sneaky way to brag about what you’ve got. And that’s the issue I have with these types of […]

  • 12 anonymous // Sep 23, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I loved your article “Facebook updates: the new way to brag”. I really appreciate the way you have put your thoughts into words so boldly. I strongly believe someone should research the negative effect of these social networking sites on the society.

    I am a member of orkut, but I only include close school friends with whom I have lost touch since last 15 years. I really don’t feel the need to add people like my current friends or neighbors to my friend’s list, because they can just call me in case if they want to contact me. I also joined facebook but discontinued it after a month for the same reason. People update their status so often and add photos and stuff which make you feel tempted to check them out. But, it also consumed a lot of my precious time and mental energy thinking about what other people were currently doing. And I had similar thoughts like “Why is this person writing/bragging [about her or others] ?” I really feel relaxed after canceling my facebook account and get a lot more time to do better activities than worrying about what other people are thinking or doing.

  • 13 thatcoolbroad // Sep 26, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Check out this recent article about a study that suggests that the more friends you have on Facebook…the more likely it is that you are a narcissist. Interesting.

    thatcoolbroads last blog post..Can beautiful girls become Cool Broads?

  • 14 Ryan Marshall // Oct 21, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I don’t bother with Facebook, as I was an early adopter of Friendster, only to jump ship to Myspace, only to be told I HAD to jump to Facebook, because it is the new frontier. The argument being that there is less spam, no annoying bands, and you are not as much of a marketing research project. The bottom line is, the same person that will annoy you with their headline on the internet, will almost certainly annoy you in person. At least you have the filter of the internet to keep you from any direct confrontation.

    If you really want your head to spin, join twitter and add your friends. Wait till your phone is blowing up every 2 minutes from constant updates of every mundane task carried out in a day: “going to the store to get some milk” is an actual “tweet” followed a few minutes later by “on my way home from the store, traffic blows!”

    These are all signs that there are so many outlets to socialize and be heard, that we have managed to make it so almost nobody is listening any longer. We are turning into a very needy, lonely, America.

    Ryan Marshalls last blog post..Giving birth to Stupid …

  • 15 SethWatson // Oct 30, 2009 at 1:55 am

    This is a TOTALLY EXCELLENT article and so on point. FB is great in many ways, but this phenomenon is NOT one of them. We become airbrushed cyber versions of ourselves which is really not the point. Thanks for calling this out.

  • 16 Bfastattiffanys // Nov 9, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Wow- so true. I thought there was something wrong with me because every time I used Facebook I would get bummed out…until I realized I was just falling for the overcompensated status update of some of my “friends”. My husband go to the point where he would ask me not to log in that day because I was saying things like “So-Called-Friend”‘s husband gives her massages every night and he bought he left her a note in her car that told her how beautiful she is and they just go two flat screens – why don’t you do that and why can’t we get a flat screen? (even though neither of us even watches tv that often had decided to wait until I went back to work to get one). He asked me one night, “How do you know this stuff about her? You don’t even talk anymore because you think she is shallow”. That was a bit of an eyeopener. What am I doing reading these posts all day? But, like some say, it’s like a train wreck. You can’t look away. There are options for hiding certain people and I can’t make myself do that. Is there a support group I can join to deal with my Facebook problem? lol! Thanks for writing this and it felt sooooooo good to vent about Status/Bragging updates. :)

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