I joined Facebook 5years ago, and at first it was a fascinating corner of the web. I connected with most of my friends and added new ones almost everyday. But like most things in life, it gets to its peak and then a decline sets in. It follows the "normal curve" as statisticians will say, slow start, fast ascent, peak, then decline. Today, I use Facebook very rarely and whenever I go on it, I can't help but conclude it is just one huge popularity contest. It is an avenue for many people to show off an exaggerated form of their personalities and lives. They paint a picture of what they would like to be seen as, rather than what they really are. I still have an active profile on Facebook and occasionally do post and comment. But the rat race that goes on there, the desperation to be seen as happy and successful sometimes gets too much for me. To be fair, not all Facebook users are like this, egotistic and narcissistic types seeking attention at every opportunity. There are many who are on there to genuinely connect with friends and family, promote their business, connect with clients, share important and valuable information etc. I do not have anything against people who chose to use social media for self promotion though, it is well within their rights to do so. But the main reason for this article is to highlight some of the interesting stereotypes of different Facebook users. We all belong to one or more of these stereotypes. My classification is based on a research into social media stereotypes conducted by Ericsson Consumer Lab. All the narratives under each classification are mine.
1. The attention seeker: This is the largest group of Facebook users. Many people use Facebook to seek some sort of attention in ways that are not particularly practicable in real-life social situations. For example, you wouldn't go to work on a Monday morning with your photo album, its normally kept in the house for when friends and relatives visit. On Facebook, you can share your holiday album with all your friends (in different parts of the world) first thing on a Monday morning and let them know how wonderful your life is. Some post "half messages" like "arghhhh!" and then the comments start to flood in asking whats the matter. After about 10 comments, the poster comes out to say "oh, I hurt my foot on the couch, how are you doing". In the meantime, he/she has received 10 comments, and to this group of users, comments are trophies. Many will post pictures of themselves on holiday having champagne on the beach, dinning at posh restaurants and may even take pictures of the food plate! Yes they will show you their lobster meals served with Sauvignon Blanc. You need to know they are livin da vida loca!
2. The Voyeur: This is the user keenly interested in the lives of others while keeping his/hers secret. He trawls through other people's status updates and pictures and observe their lives from a safe distance (behind his computer), while his is kept hidden behind a veil. It is not a crime to be a Facebook voyeur, but it breaks one fundamental Facebook rule: you have to give in order to get. But there is no Facebook control (at least not yet) that says if you haven't posted anything in, for example, 6months, your account will be deactivated. So Facebook voyeurs are not strictly breaking any of Facebook's "terms and conditions". They are a bit creepy though.
3. The Stalker: This is the Facebook user who obsessively checks certain people's status updates throughout the day. These people may not be actual friends, but maybe someone he/she met once at the dinner party. The stalker sometimes "likes" their status updates or pictures, and may even leave comments. The stalker will wake up in the morning and go straight to that one profile he's been monitoring, and knows every move of the "stalkee" (if I may use that word). This is why we should not reveal too much about ourselves on social media sites. There are some lonely people out there desperate for interaction, and sometimes may take steps to hurt you if they don't get that interaction. Many quickly and naively add people they've only known for a few hours to their friends' circle only to regret it a few weeks later. Thank God for the block button.
4. The Gossip Monger: Hahaa!, maybe we all know someone or some people on our timelines who fits this category of Facebook users. They stir up rumours about others and intervene in situations where they are not entitled to do so. They jump into conversations to express an opinion about other people's personal matters, which is usually far from the truth, and cause problems that lead to he said..she said...what...to who and when situations! In short these people could ignite World War 3 right there on Facebook! The ability to identify this category of users is the beginning of wisdom.
5. The Lecturer: Yes he is a PhD holder who graduated from Facebook University. He knows everything and has an opinion about every situation going in the world. Ranging from the war in Afghanistan to Kim Kardashian's new engagement ring. Yes he lectures everybody on Facebook everyday. His friends are school pupils that need to be taught. He posts deep articles everyday from New York Times pieces on President Obama's new campaign to Weight Watchers slimming tips. He judges and criticizes everyone and everything from the comfort of his sofa. No doubt he is probably intelligent but could be annoying as a friend as he is insensitive to others. He pops up on your timeline with fierce opinions about the US elections when you just want to chill out. The lecturer posts "motivational quotes" everyday to motivate his friends when actually the only person who needs the motivation is himself.
6. The Savage: Now this is a very crass type of user. This user is seemingly oblivious to all the rules and regulations guiding human interaction. He/she adds people he barely knows to his friends' list and sends requests to total strangers. He comments on their profiles with shocking crudeness, tags them in embarrassing photos they wouldn't have authorized, uses foul language happily without any regard for sensitivities. Displays shocking ignorance and is always in your face. You wake up and he already said "morning :)", and you barely know him! He is to be avoided at all cost. The savage will make your life a misery and destroy the integrity of your timeline. Avoid!
These stereotypes are of course not a definitive list and is just a loose classification of Facebook users round the world. Not to be taken too seriously. But somehow we all belong to one or more of these groups, if we are being honest with ourselves. But anyway, Facebook is still a great invention and can be a very rewarding tool if used wisely.