The Web Hostess: Sharing - or Bragging? How annoying do your friends find your status updates?

Jun 06, 2012

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.

Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by for this inaugural edition of "Sharing? Or Bragging?" We'll start at 2.

 

In this game, I will post several sample Facebook status updates -- mostly culled from real reader submissions, though I have changed identifying details to protect the unknowing. It is your job to rate these updates on a scale of 1 to 5 -- 1 being "Totally innocuous," and 5 being "Unfriend immediately."

 

When you share your thoughts, please include a two-or three word description of the update you are referring to.

 

FOR EXTRA CREDIT, you may revise the braggy statement so that it conveys the same information in an un-braggy way.

 

And continue submitting your own horror tales throughout the chat.

Your contestants are:

 

A) "When I came into work this morning I had one job title. Now I'm leaving with a new one. Announcing my promotion: ______"

 

B) "Uggh, I have to go meet with [Spawn's] teacher -again- because she keeps finishing the reading early. Do have I have to give the kid 'War and Peace?' "

 

C) "I'm so excited to by marrying my handsome and wonderful fiance in just a week! Can't wait to be Mrs. Handsome."

 

D) "Love my friends who Facebook complain about their 12 hour days. I -wish- my days were 12 hours."

 

E) "[Progeny] won her race!"

 

F) "A good man lets your friends crash at your house after a late night out. A great man makes up the air mattress and puts chocolates on the pillows. Swoon!"

 

G) "How pathetic am I? Up at 6 a.m. to check out how many copies my book sold this week. So pathetic."

 

H) "I guess that ordering a giant milkshake kind of undid that 10 mile run this morning."

 

I) "MY BOOK COMES OUT TODAY. EEEEE!"

 

J) "One year ago, I married my best friend. She is the most caring, loving, patient and beautiful woman imaginable. God has a perfect plan, and He picked the perfect mate for me."

A: 5 B: 4 C: 3 D: 1 E: 2 F: 3 G: 5 H: 3 I: 1 J: 1 Are of these actually real or did you make some of them up?

All of these are real, or at least they were presented as real by the people who sent them to me. I can verify that the ones you think are not real actually are, because I have seen them with my own eyes.

The false modesty in B, D and G are cringe worthy. I don't think anyone I know would allow someone to get away with that kind of thing. I'd like to read the comment section - I think I'd comment to the complaint about 12 hours - no work is done if you never start it!

The key that you've hit upon here is "false modesty," or, as its known in Internet parlance, "Humblebrag." I have thoughts  on this, which I may or may not expand on later.

Do others agree that B, D, and G are the most irritating? Are there others that you find more annoying?

Can I briefly say how much I loved your article on Monday? I recently lost my space heater due to "building safety" issues. Whatever that means. I think having to be wrapped up in a blanket is a much bigger safety issue because if something happens, I'll surely trip in the blanket and knock myself out.

Thanks! I have a blankie at my desk. Best workplace decision I've ever made.

A) one job title, now another - 2

B) Spawn keeps finishing the reading early - 4

C) I'm so excited to by marrying my handsome and wonderful fiance - 2

D) I -wish- my days were 12 hours. - 4

E) [Progeny] won her race! - 1

F) air mattress and w/ chocolates. Swoon! - 4 (the "Swoon!" makes it so much worse)

G) How pathetic am I? Up early to check on copies sold. So pathetic. - 2

H) I guess that ordering a giant milkshake kind of undid that 10 mile run this morning. - 2

I) MY BOOK COMES OUT TODAY. EEEEE! -1

J) One year ago, I married my best friend - 4

 

It looks like it drives me nuts when people have obviously put thought into how to humblebrag. I'm willing to cut genuinely exciting news some slack and don't mind at all when people are just making the normal posts that FB/Twitter were invented for. All that said, none of these are unfriend-worthy unless the poster is a repeat offender.

Yes. What people don't understand is that it is okay to get genuinely excited about some things. Your kid won a race (E)? That's awesome! I'd expect you to be excited about it, and I don't mind you sharing. But don't pretend that having such a super-special talented kid is a burden (B). It's disengenuous, and we all see what you're doing.

Got into top 20 university in the world LLM program for dream area of law. I'd say sharing...

No. Bragging. It's the "Top 20" that pushes it over the edge, because it says that you want everyone to know how smart you are.

If instead you said, "So excited! Just got into University of Michigan law school!" then that would be sharing. Because it says that you want everyone to know how happy you are.

 

Do you see the difference?

My own personal philosophy about Facebook, and no one else need agree or follow, is I treat it like Miranda rights. I believe anything I post can and will be held against me. I have never posted anything on Facebook. I do post my photographs, as I believe it allows my photography to go out into the cloud and be appreciated, or ignored, by anyone who wishes to see them, or anyone who choses to ignore them. That is my philosophy.

Thank you.

I think the worst is the humblebrag (the kid reading War & Peace and the guy claiming to be pathetic for checking the number of books he's sold are A+ examples of this genre) because there's an added dimension of the writer so obviously caring what people think but trying to act as though that's not the case that makes the whole thing so stinky. I also really hate anything that makes life a competition, like the person comparing their work hours to the others. The rest are bragging but some seem legitimately happy without going on about it (my kid won her race/my book comes out today) or are just kinda like "okay good for you but no one cares" (so happy to be marrying/married to this person). Those ones get more annoying with the frequency with which they are posted but reading it here once doesn't bother me much.

Posting.

Why didn't you create a quiz where we can rate all of them? Some of these are just so great. I wish my "friends" posted things like this; maybe I'd spend more time on FB just to be appalled!

I know. A quiz would have been a better format. But I was flying on my own, and I hadn't the time. You will have to place your thoughts into message form.

D) 12 hour days = 5+. What an a-hole. Bragging AND condemning her friends that only work 12 hours. Gross. I bet if you spent less time trying to one-up your friends, you'd get through your work quicker.

Ha.

A) Sadaam look-alike C) Love, Rielle. D) Antarctic Gal J) We're having apples for dinner! - Adam

I love this chat. I love this chat.

Can we also discuss posting pictures of engagement rings? What is a non-barfy way of announcing your engagement?

Actually, I can't remember the last time I thought that anyone's engagement announcement was "barfy." It's one of the few moments in life at which point you are allowed to be over the moon and self-involved. Go ahead and show us the ring -- it's what everyone will be asking to see anyway.

 

The only nauseating way I can think of handling an engagement announcement would be with a post like, "So happy to be marrying my sweetie; so sad that my sister Beth is still single and cannot seem to find the right guy and has to be alone in all of our family pictures."

This topic comes up in Carolyn Hax chats frequently, and I'm always a little surprised. Yes, a lot of FB posts are essentially bragging. But ... so what? Isn't that the basic purpose? The difference between bragging and sharing — aside from how annoying someone sounds or the language they use not in their post — isn't it just whether or not we care? How well we know the person? Whether or not their way of communicating matches ours? And since people send and accept friend requests from people we're not really friends with, whose fault is it? Not to put the kibosh on an otherwise fun, snarky topic, but this just doesn't seem worth beginning to pretend to get annoyed by. I get much more annoyed by people who use FB for 1-on-1 conversation in a public forum. I do not need to see you guys hammering out lunch plans because neither of you can be bothered to use email. THAT's a complaint I can get behind.

Thanks for writing in. I agree with some of your points -- that certain communication styles mesh well and others don't -- but not others. You can care deeply about someone, for example, and still find their updates braggy and insufferable.

 

This topic is not meant to be snarky in the least. I truly believe there are hoards of people out there whose updates make them look clueless at best and self-centered at worst -- and they honestly have no idea how they are coming across. I think it's useful to learn what might be annoying to others, and think about how many of those patterns you fall victim to.

What do you make of well wishes -- happy birthday wishes or remembrance well wishes on the anniversary of a loved one's passing -- that are posted on Facebook? Assume there is no doubt the person who's the target of these well wishes will not see the Facebook message; either they are not on Facebook, can't read, or have passed on. What would you say the purpose of these messages is and how appropriate do you find them?

I don't have a problem with them. Funerals have always been for the living, and updates likes these -- especially remembrances of dead relatives -- seem to be a way of acknowledging vulnerability, and announcing that you could use a little support around a trying time.

Cupcake, I'm planning on seeing Snow White and the Huntsman this weekend with my sister. Is this a good use of $10 or should we skip the movie and just get pizza?

Ehhhh. All I can tell you is that it's getting quite positive reviews, but that in the screening I went to, people were laughing loudly at the parts that were not supposed to be funny.

Kristen Stewart is eminiently watchable, though. I don't even care about the "can she act or not" debate. Her face is just mesmerizing.

I have a very good friend from college who makes a six-figure income for a major company. My other friend and I have determined he posts, on average, 20 times daily. And these posts aren't simple one-line status updates. They include videos, articles, and links and he also polls friends or asks questions that result in discussions of 30-40 comments. My other friend and I now find ourselves resenting him. We work hard for our meager salaries and don't have the time or flexibility at work to post this much. Sometimes I feel like posting on his page DO YOU EVER WORK? I never felt this way about him before Facebook. I expected to be annoyed at people's posts... I didn't expect to feel resentment towards a friend.

Thanks for sharing. This is really interesting because it doesn't seem to be the content of the posts that bothers you as much as the implications behind the posts -- that he makes a lot of money for doing what seems like a lot of nothing. Do you think you'd be bothered by his Facebook activity if he were, say, jobless or a stay-at-home dad?

My MIL will tag herself in photos she's not in on Facebook. She tagged herself in a photo taken of our newborn at the hospital, so several people assumed she had been there for the birth. She's tagged herself in vacation photos, so the caption will say something like "sunset by a lighthouse at Smith Island with John Smith, Jane Smith and John Smith's Mom"). How weird is this?

This is so weird.  This is the weirdest thing I have heard of related to Facebook and tagging. Is she doing it, perhaps, so that it's easier for her to share the photos with her friends? Like, she wants everyone to know how well her son and his wife are doing, and this is her way of getting the photos to show up on her timeline? Have you ever spoken with her about this?

Can I just say if you are annoyed by my endless updates about my kids PLEASE hide me from your news feed or just unfriend me. I use facebook mostly to share stories about pictures of the kids with their faraway relatives. I have unfriended a couple of people who drove me crazy, but mostly I just remove people who's updates have grown tiresome from my news feed. And if the mood strikes me I can still check in on them later. I think it really depends on what you use fb for, if you want discussion of current events you should not be my fb friend, it is not what I am on there for. I know that my primary audience is extended family who cares about what the kids are up to and the occasional old friend who finds them funny and if everyone else wants to hide or unfriend me so be it, I will not hold it against them.

Thanks for this -- I hear so often from people who are irritated by constant kid references on Facebook that it's nice to have a reasonable explanation from someone on the other side.

"Uggh, I have to go meet with [Spawn's] teacher -again- because she keeps finishing the reading early. Do have I have to give the kid 'War and Peace?' "

I'm not sure this is fixable.

Sure it is: "Spawn has turned into a total bookworm. I'm so proud. Does anyone have any good suggestions for books that an eight-year-old girl might enjoy?"

 

See? That's what the update is really about -- a parent being proud. The problem is that it's disguised as a parent being irritated.

As a parent, I have posted the occasional "Way to go, kiddo!" message when they win something or are recognized at school. Most of my kid-related posts, however, are about the ridiculous, illogical, and downright crazy things my kids do. Is that annoying, too? Does it change if the funny thing they say points out a flaw of mine?

This sounds like it could go either way, honestly, and probably depends on the frequency with which you post this kind of thing, or how you word it. In general, "Way to go, Kiddos!" are probably not annoying at all. The others might be.

...you don't have an example of this but I am at the age where I have A LOT of friends who have had babies within the past year. Some of these babies are "easy" (i.e. not fussy, sleep multiple hours at a time, love "tummy time" whatever that means) so of these babies are "demanding" (I guess those babies hate tummy time?) It seems to me, as a non-baby-having outside observer, that some of the parents of "easy" babies seem to broadcast a little too loudly about how easy their babies are, making the other parents feel badly. That is where I think bragging crosses the line. When it seems that the purpose of the brag is not to humbly let the world know something you are proud of, but rather to bombastically proclaim that you are better than the world at something that 80% (number approximate) of humanity do at one point or another (like being a parent).

...Which is a shame, because I seriously doubt that that's the parents intention at all. The intention might be more like, "Whoa, I totally lucked out with this kid, because I would be in a world of crap if she didn't sleep all the time."

See? They might be intending it to be self-deprecating, but it comes out bragging. Which is different than wanting to brag and disguising it as self-deprecation.

Is definitely A. Who writes like that?? Do they talk like that in real life? I wouldn't have a problem if they were just announcing a promotion, but writing it like that is just too much

It -does- sound a little like you expecte a tootling horn to accompany you when you walk in the room the next day.

Exactly, Monica! Like, the one where the kid won a race: that's cool. But if it was "my child just finished second in the field day relay race out of 200 competitors!" I'd smack my head against the keyboard.

(I'm waiting to see if the law school applicant has written back, because I feel like the way you just compared two possible announcements of success is appropriate in that case.)

A- 3 B- 5 C- 2 D- 4 E- 1 F- 2 G- 3 H- 3 I- 1 J- 1

I'm going to just post a whole slew of these in a row.

A)3, B)5, C) 1, D)3, E)1, F)1, G)2, H)1, I)2, J)3

A) I'll give it a 3. I don't have a problem announcing that you got a promotion (depending on the group of people you've chosen to "friend"), but the wording could have been done better. I think simpler makes it better "Hey guys, got a promotion today... I'm buying." B) ugh -- 5. This person sucks. Maybe the reason her teacher is worried about how fast she's reading is because she isn't comprehending what she reads, just does it quickly. C) 4; I'm happy for you too, but "I can't wait to marry my wonderful fiance in a week'" would have been better. D) 2; I don't have a big issue with this; but I try not to call out my FB friends (because they're actually people I am friends with, or at least have a shared past with). E) again a 2 here... If your FB friends are your friends I have no problem with sharing that kind of info; and they didn't talk about how the college scouts were there, etc. F) 4... your husband might be gay (sorry, that's not fair to gay people). G) 47 (5 isn't high enough for this person). There is no way to word this so the person doesn't seem like an egomaniac (how the heck do you spell pompass?) H) 2... not bad at all. If you're my friend I'm glad you're exercising and doing well, and we can all empathize with doing something "bad" to erase whatever good we do. I) 3... again if they're my friend that is something I'd like to know... lose the all-caps, and assume they've mentioned this before. J) 1.. the god stuff turns me off personally, but I really do love my friends that are in happy marriages, and if "it takes a village" then we can all share in their joy.

In general, I feel like some bragging is ok. These are your friends and family & they should be happy if you are happy/excited, right? For me the line falls somewhere after, "Was it funny. . . at all?" or was it a spontaneous expression of a feeling? A (Promotion) 4- Unecessarily complicated. "Yay! I got promoted" is all that was needed. B (War & Peace) 5-No possible save on this one C (Mr. Handsome) 2-A little braggy, but also a little funny & you know, the happy if you're excited thing D (12 hr. work day) 5-Get over yourself already E (Race) 1-The very definition of bragging, but if a friend called on the phone, you'd say exactly the same thing, right? F (Swoon) 3-This one is right on the line of too braggy, but a little funny, so maybe ok? G (book sales) 5-Ew! H (Milkshake) 2-sort of bragging, sort of laughing at self I (EEEE!) 1-Spontaneous & the family & friends thing again J (best friend) 3-Bleeach! It's ok, but it's also boring and treacly (sp?) I find the bigger problem is people who bitch constantly-health, job, mate, kids, not having kids. I really need to start blocking those folks!

I can't believe that I found the time, while curing smallpox in Antarctica, to write and publish a book about it while meeting my soul mate who is the greatest person who ever lived. I think I'll celebrate with a random act of charity.

Hahahahaha

So... here's a question because of something that came up recently. I've lost a ton of weight... I don't really talk about it and my FB picture was outdated. Then this weekend I went to a party and some friends did my hair and makeup and I will say I looked fantastic... but I don't look that way 90% of the time. I made a pic from that night my profile pic, and people keep commenting on how good I look. These types of comments make me uncomfortable, so I wrote a comment like "it's amazing what a lot of makeup can do!" is that a humblebrag? Because I don't mean it that way. I do look great... but it also took 3 years of weight loss and 2 hours of primping! hahaha.

No! This sounds charming and just fine. Though, FWIW, it also would have been fine to say, "Thanks!" and leave it at that. Congratulations on all your hard work.

A girlfriend of mine posts pretty frequent, but not annoying, updates about how her day is going. Problem is she's got a lot of friends so if I comment on her post, I can then count on 10 more people to comment and every single time they do I get a notification about it, so I don't comment on her posts as often as I'd like. Sorry hon. You're just too popular.

There are friends whose posts I will no longer comment on, just because it's irritating to then be pinged 12 times an hour for the rest of the day as everyone else chimes in.

Why would anyone want to constantly receive their friends status updates? It is annoying enough to read their Christmas letters, with all the bragging thinly disguised as "news." But then, I'm already in my 40s so what do I know?

Are you not on Facebook? I think most users would agree that there are welcomed status updates that are thoughtful, funny, touching, or any number of useful things. And then there are those that are not. So much of it is in the wording.

So, Monica, when does your book come out? I hope you will tell us. EEEEEE.

Eeeeeee! I don't know! The original release date was May 2013, but I think that's going to be pushed back a few months. I'll humbly brag about it when I have more information.

What is your experience with Facebook? Are you even on Facebook? I can't find you listed unless of course, Monica Hesse is not your real name....

Seriously? I should be the first (and maybe only) Monica Hesse who comes up. Lots of chatters have found me that way, and we're all bosom friends there now.

A) Sharing in a cute way...2 B) Bragging...4 C) Annoying but understandable within a week from wedding. If this were a countdown from a year, that would get old quick. D) Bragging...4 E) Sharing (key is that it is plainly stated)...1 F) Bragging...5 G) Sharing (who wouldn't be excited?)...2 H) Sharing (but I'm a runner, so I am biased)...1 I) Sharing...1 J) Annoying, the first part was fine, it was the 2nd that lost me...4 I think the key is how embellished the status is and how much the person is trying to make something good look like a bad thing (ie meeting with the teacher because Spawn is so good at reading).

Thanks.

FYI, guys -- you don't have to share how you feel about all of them. Highlighting a few that you'd like to defend or explore is just fine, too.

A1; B4.5; C3.5; D4; E2; F2; G3.5; H2; I1; J4.

Ooh, assigning half-points. Fancy!

We have discussed this before: I would roll my eyes at many of those status updates, but not be unduly irritated by any of them. If a person's entire feed was about their brilliant progeny, or their ooshy-gooshy love, or their book sales, I would judge an individual update much more harshly. I propose that there's a frequency as well as a content dimension to whether it's bragging or sharing.

This is absolutely true. Context is everything, or a lot of things, at least. I'd excuse almost any of these behaviors if they happened once or twice. If it was the rule rather than the exception, we might have a problem.

(I might have rated some differently if 5 were "Makes me retch uncontrollably" rather than "Unfriend immediately.")

It's true. It's hard to unfriend someone when you're vomiting on their profile.

Interesting that this is the final option. To me, the most drastic step is usually "hide from feed," and that's a quantity-over-quality issue. I keep the annoying ones - I call them "schadenfriends" - for the entertainment value. When they got to clogging my feed, I'll hide them and enjoy them only through their many inane comments on my own posts.

Schadenfriends! Brilliant!

Here is how to make Letter D unbraggy: "Love my friends who Facebook complain about their 12-hour days. I -wish- my days were 12 hours. Instead, they are merely zero hours because I am unemployed."

Immediately, it goes from bragging to just making everyone uncomfortable.

These posts would cause me to hit "unfriend" so fast, Zuckerberg would feel the reverberations in his bunker: A (promotion), C (fiance), J (best friend/God), and G (pathetic author.) The rest of them I'd just hide.

Thank you. Excellent Zuckerberg reference.

I think (E) strikes a perfect tone. It is obviously a brag, but it is not flowery, over-the-top. It shows pride in Progeny's accomplishment, without being gross. Context is key too...if Progeny is Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, and that is Michael Phelps' or Usain Bolt's mother posting those things...well, then I might have to un-friend. (B) on the other hand is is an example of how not to brag. Acting like a child (allegedly) overachieving is sooo annoying and inconveniencing is messed up. Its begging for a response from someone. Those are the ones that annoy me, the ones that are so clearly trying to provoke a response from someone.

Actually, if Michael Phelps's mom was all, "My son won a race today," she might be the pinnacle of restraint. The bad version of her update would be, "I have having to dust all of these gold medals, ugh, so annoying."

The ones that are more smarmy I hate (War and Peace, 12 hour days). The ones that feel more real or just presenting information (promotion, Mrs. Handsome) are the ones that I feel are more innocuous.

Thanks.

And guys, we have reached the point where you must stop posting your responses to all of them. Pick one or two, or make a general observation, because the queue has gotten completely insane.

My most outrageous facebook experience was having a "friend" essentially live blog giving birth via facebook status updates. I do not know how on earth she even managed to type on a smartphone given all that was happening according to her updates. The worst part was that I had previously blocked her from my news feed due to things like this. Bored one day I thought, oh I wonder if Susan had her baby yet and checked her page. That stream of status updates was so awful I didn't want to read but could not stop reading!

Maybe she outsourced it to a friend? (The updating, I mean -- not the birthing.)

...posts where people really aren't bragging but are looking for sympathy or support or maybe just attention? I have one friend who will constantly post about how bad they physically feel (headaches, fatigue, stomach issues). The thing is, we all know that there is really nothing wrong with them (doctors visits check out) and they don't seem depressed in other aspects of life outside of FB, but on FB they seem like the sickliest person. I think they are just looking for sympathy? Whatever it is, my patience is thinning, and that makes me feel like a bad friend.

I think that's just "attention whoring," a well-used and vintage term of the Internet that still applies.

just wanted to check if the important stuff is allowable.

Obviously.

J, F, C. (Hey, wait - that's an acronym for my favorite profanity!)

I notice an anti-lovey dovey patter in your response.

I was just looking for sympathy, I guess. Bad FB post?

Nah, I think you're okay. So long as the text isn't, "I can't believe that this is the first thing I did in our $2,000 a night ski chateau. Clumsy me!"

I put conversations between my wife and I up sometimes-- maybe once a month. They are usually self demeaning and pretty funny (I've asked friends that I trust to tell me the truth whether or not they are funny or just annoying). Yay or nay?

Again, contextual, I think. It's all dependent on whatever else is going on on your feed.

And on if they really are self-deprecating, or just humblebrags disguised as self-deprecating.

I don't have kids, I don't want kids, but gosh, do I like kids. I LOVE when people post the goofy things their kids say and do. What I don't care for is, "Does anyone know if the graham crackers at Bakerside Elementary are GF? Jimmy's got an upset tummy, and that's the only thing I can think of." Start a group for Bakerside 'rents, post it there.

Thank you.

But the spawn is way beyond the 8-year old reading level.

Anyone who doesn't love "The Westing Game" or "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" isn't a real bookworm.

OK, just kidding. But it was posts like these that led me to quit FB for about two years. I recently came crawling back if only to bask in the pictures of my nieces and nephews across the country. Sadly, though, I am having the same cynical reactions to these types of posts that I did before.

 

One caveat: someone recently posted almost exactly what you have about the marrying my best friend in my timeline. However, cringe-inducing as I found it, it's the truth. Marrying his wife was the greatest thing he ever did and he is such a grateful human and hardly ever reveals personal stuff like this. I wonder if he fell victim to seeing others post this kind of stuff? Great discussion today, Monica!

Thanks!

(And sorry for chopping up your post in the middle. Something went wrong with the text and it was gobbledygook. I saved as much as I could.)

G (up early re: book) is the worst sort of Humblebrag post and worthy of an immediate unfriend. D (12 hour day) is close and I would give it an instant unfriend if the post included something like, "stay at home mom is the most thankless job ever"

Posting.

Ugh. This would be a 4 or 5 for me. I don't need to hear you gush about your wife. It's sweet in theory, but she's the one who should hear it, not everyone you know.

It's fascinating to me that the reaction to this one is almost all either 1 or 5, with no middle ground. More than the others, this post seems to bring out reactions that aren't about bragging vs. sharing so much as it's about how comfortable people are with PDAs, or sharing private emotions in public.

My mom and sister tag themselves in pictures they're not in all of the time. What makes me crazy is that they'll tag in me in those pictures, too. Pictures of my niece, pictures of restaurants we went to when we were kids, etc. I'm constantly removing them.

This seems entirely different than your mother in law inserting herself into your birthing room, however.

I have noticed that many people are rating J as either 5 or 1. I personally see J as a 1 and thought it tied with the race winning update for the nicest. Are people rating it a 5 because it mentions God?

I wondered that as well. The God layer does add an element of unintentional smugness. I say unintentional, because it doesn't sound like the poster intended it this way, but it could be read as, "My life is great because God loves me. If your life is not great, God probably doesn't love you."

just had her book come out and she's on a book tour. really, i do know her and she is incredibly awesome and what might sound like bragging out of context - isn't. She is truly excited about this part of her journey...and wanting to share her happiness with others. Perhaps one or another of her fb posts might seem like bragging to someone who doesn't know her, but if you KNOW her, it completely is not. just sayin'.... Another friend is on another world tour as a backup singer for a very famous pop star. i don't think she's bragging either, but really she could be...she's another very awesome person who is thankful for her good life, really.

I believe you. Again, it's the difference between wanting people to know how happy you are, and wanting people to know how cool you are. It is a huge, vast difference.

I usually block this stuff from my feeds, but I have one friend I can't manage to block. It's because her misery is *real*. She has some serious, serious medical problems and posts about the pain, hospitalization, and frustration A LOT. I hate the posts, because I know she's not doing it to "Update" anyone, but rather to get sympathy. Somehow, though, I can't seem to block her updates from the feed, because I feel like she at least earned the right to attention whore by going through it all. Does that make sense?

Yes. It makes sense, and it makes you a sympathetic friend.

I actually don't find G) so terrible, mainly because I have friends that I like and aren't normally braggy who I could see posting something like that and I wouldn't hold it against them. However, I have a visceral reaction to B), not just because it's obnoxious (which it truly is), but has to do with someone's kid, so I may be showing my bias as a childless-by-choice kind of person. But then again I think STFU Parents has ruined me against most kid/baby posts. That and my FB "friend" who proclaimed on an infamous status update that her son's Montessori preschool teacher was "ignorant" for not knowing what edamame was... yeesh.

I have a lot of writer friends, who update about their books in many different ways. I find G inexcusable.

Also, the edamame post: !!!

The ones that are deliberately vague but somehow menacing or sad so that others will respond "oh no, what's wrong?" Someday I will give in to the impulse to say "Oh [person] is just trolling for sympathy yet again." Protip: if you are the person posting these and you get absolutely NO comments, it's because everyone is already on to you and has hidden you from their feeds.

Correct.

(Does it sound like a news update interruption? Because it should.) Can I be the official chat statistician? Yes? Great! I have our interim results. The most-offending is hands down B (War and Peace)! And the most-put-up-with-able is...ooooh, it's a tie between E (won the race) and I (book coming out)! I'll give a final update in about 30 minutes. I now return you to Monica.

Thank you. Excellent work. I will now interrupt the postings to throw a few more stats your way:

A, C, J. I hate people who go on and on about their weddings and how "great" their finances are. This is only compounded by the "God has a perfect plan" thing. I hate those people most of all. It's essentially the girl on Punk Brewster saying, "I'm beautiful, and you're a peasant." The milkshake one made me laugh. Kid bragging rates about a three for me. Chances are I'll block your updates from my feed, rather than immediately unfriend you.

I love reading about, and seeing pictures of, my friends' kids' activities and accomplishments. For that I prefer the simple E) over the couching bragging as complaining in B). I am always glad to hear examples of spouses/partners treating my friends well. Here I prefer the specific F) to the over-the-top J). No one spouse/partner is the superlative in all those areas. I want to celebrate my friends accomplishments. Again I) is simple and to the point. A) not so much. Just cop to the good and the bad in H) as in, "I enjoyed a 10 mile run and a milkshake this morning." Too many of the D) type, competitive even in complaining from any one friend is the only example here that would get you unfriended by me.

Two are bad on their own - one is B, which is whineybrag beyond measure (G is humblebrag, but book releases don't happen every day). The other bad one is D - really, everyone has stuff we hate about our jobs, and stop shivving us for having work-life balance. If you don't like it, quit - stop whining to the world. Most of the rest aren't bad on their own, but can be if you get 37 of them in three days (C and anything else wedding- or baby-related falls into this trap). The worst, and what I hate more than anything else, are political screeds. Really, I'll take as many "my precious hubby is soooo wuvvvable!!!!", unfunny LOLcats, and updates on your annoying children as you want, but politics is just tiresome.

A) 4, [cat video] B) 4, Meeting with [Spawn's] teacher again because she keeps finishing the reading early. Going to talk the teacher into assigning [Spawn] her chore chart. C) 1 D) 5, [socialcam link] E) 1 F) 4, [photos uploaded last night from the bar, hopefully with lots of red-eye and too much flash] G) 5, "OMG, B), LOL! You should assign Spawn [my book], LOL! $8.99 on Amazon, LOL!!" H) 2, omit distance and the post is fine I) 1 J) 1, unless you're that person's first spouse

This is the most informative chat ever!

We aim to please.

I think maybe this commenter is reading way too much into the God aspect of that status update. It's annoying in part because it completely ignores that some people's lives suck (what if you got married and then your spouse died young? not much of a nice plan). A simple, "Happy anniversary [spouse]!" or even something like, "I thank God that I found you, [spouse]!" would have been way better.

There are a lot of ways of reading this that make the post irritating, and several ways of reading it that make it acceptable. I can see both.

and wanting people to be jealous.

Yes, that too. I folded that in with "cool."

What sort of wording do you and the chatters suggest I use to announce each time a book I've translated is published (there's at least one a year), so as not to come across as cringe-worthy or false-bragging? I try to be as straightforward as possible because I do want for people to know, of course -- but while not revolting them.

Straightforward is the way to go: "Hey everyone: my translation of The Girl With the Unicorn Nose Ring comes out this week. It's a great Swedish thriller, it was lots of fun to work on, and I'm so proud of how it turned out."

 

I would have no problems with an update like this.

I say this because I have friends that are in a relationship full of nasty yelling and put downs. And then one (or both) of them post gag-worthy status updates like J. Really? If he/she is so darn great, why are you in THERAPY???

Methinks they're just trying to convince themselves it will all be okay. And that's not irritating, just depressing.

I totally consider obnoxious religion references a 5. J is the perfect example- it manages to be smug (god gave me spouse because he personally loves ME special flower I am & if you aren't as happy you must not love god as well as i do), proselytizing (if you loved god as much as i do he'd hook you up too), & annoying (oh schmoopy face so many years together thanks to god) all in one line.

Posting.

It is kind of un-nerving to me how on topic this chat has remained.

People have attempted to introduce new chat strains, but I've had to shut them down because we must beat this topic to the ground.

If you suggested something we didn't get to this week, please re-submit if for next week. We'll talk about then, unless I come up with another spectacular way to waste time.

I'm the original poster. I actually have a good friend who just lost his job and he's been posting a lot of junk and that doesn't bother me at all. So I guess you are right - I'm peeved that a friend is making a lot of money for doing a lot of nothing. I dunno... maybe he's just super-efficient at work. I suppose I'm just jealous.

Thanks for writing back.

It's also possible that your friend has a job with many downtime holes (waiting for clients to return calls, waiting for editors to edit stories, waiting for buyers to get back with counter-offers) that make it seem like he's doing nothing. But really his day extends to 20 hours and is never really done. I don't know. Either way, you are not a bad person.

I'm a father of two children, neither of whom slept through the night until over a year old. For new parents, the "Baby is two weeks old and sleeping through the night" is the infant version of the brag "Spawn has a tough choice between Princeton and Harvard." To me the baby brags are about "I'm a new parent and look how good I am at it!" when in reality it has little to do with them.

Thanks. Also, this post might be from my dad.

For me, it's all because of God. It's like "God loves me more than he loves you, hahahaaha!"

Something about this post made me hahahaaaha

Oh man, I'm trying to remember if I posted about a milkshake after a run. Inspired in part by a bunch of old school pals on FB who did a marathon a few years ago, I started the couch-to-5K and then a half marathon. Now I'm completely self-conscious that except for the handful of ex-slugs, now runner friends, I'm annoying everyone else.

Most people found H to be only mildly annoying, if at all. Facebook is designed for the run 'n' milkshake posting.

Doesn't this just show that deep down we're all very lonely?

And insecure.

I hope I's book outsells G's.

And, you know, E's kid gets into MIT while B's kid gets a facial tattoo.

Cupcake, just as soon as you complete the MS, may I translate "The Girl With the Unicorn Nose Ring" for you? Pretty please? That way you could become a multinational bestselling novelist, and teach us all how to Facebook it without turning off your followers!

Excellent plan, since The Girl With The Unicorn Nose Ring is, in fact, a book about a woman whose Facebook status updates are mythically good.

I think context matters; I read the "12 hours" comment as coming from someone who was un-/underemployed and was complaining about how his/ her friends' complaints were ringing hollow. Just some perspective.

Thanks. FWIW, I had a little more information about that post that I did not post because it included personal/identifying characteristics. It definitely came from someone who worked longer hours than 12 per day, not from someone who was unemployed.

But I just want to share things they might enjoy, that might make them laugh or think. Wait. Facebook is supposed to be all about ME???

Well, if all you're doing is posting a link to a YouTube video or an interesting study, then none of what we've been talking about here applies. And if you're posting your own witty musings because you think that your friends will be delighted, there is a decent chance that you are actually just bragging.

Wait! You will friend random chatters?

But of course. We're all friends, bound by the chat. I don't know why nobody seems to be able to find me. I'm wearing a red coat and playing an awesome game of air hockey in my profile picture, if that helps.

Can you please explain Reddit? Or make some summer reading recs??

Next week. Yes.

I just blithely wade through Facebook assuming 90% of my friends list hid me a long time ago. I am sure most of them are sick of my posts about my dog and frankly, if they are sick of it and haven't hidden me that is more their issue than mine. I do keep the depressing stuff off Facebook, try not to whine too much about work, but my dog is awesome so there.

Assuming 90% of the world does not care about what you are doing is an excellent way to go through life. As is going through life with a dog.

For example, if the writer was in Afghanistan or fighting the fire in New Mexico, I might give him/her a pass. A fellow lawyer, not so much.

Noted.

Thoughts on Katie Couric curtsying to QE II? Miss Manners says it's a no-no for Americans. Also, I could've done without her hosting the delayed broadcast of the Jubilee concert, especially since it meant having to cut out some of the other performers.

Obviously, the Queen should host me next time. I know what's what.

I used to have a FB friend that would post stuff after a few glasses of wine - troubles with her boyfriend. I would notice these posts late at night. In the morning, I would see that she deleted them. Later, she would always post positive things like "Bob is so wonderful - I'm so lucky to have him." This always cracked me up because it made me realize FB is about as real as a reality show. It's edited and crafted so that we see only what you want us to see. This plays into the prior poster - if things are so great why are you in therapy?

This: " FB is about as real as a reality show. It's edited and crafted so that we see only what you want us to see."

Is about the truest statement we can make about Facebook.

Sorry for the all-caps, but I wanted attention too. :) About to embark on a long car trip & I don't want to get audiobooks but do want to increase my range of podcasts to pass the time. Currently enjoy WTF, Other People, lotsa NPR & WYNC (Radiolab, This American Life, Tell me More), Savage Love, etc. Won't bore you with the rest of the list- this gives it a good overview. Anything I should look into?

Oh dear. Next week, next week. We've run completely out of time (I'm doing 10 more minutes, then I'm pulling the plug).

I don't know, I'm certainly not Christian or religious, but when I see stuff like that my inclination is to say, "You go girl! Let that sparkle shine!" She's got a god that loves her, and I've got three cats and a deck. Kumbaya, whatever, etc.

A+. Gold star. Excellent post, chatter!

Two birds with one stone: The posts that my friends here giggle about while I self righteously think, "now those high school bullies will know that I am AWESOME!"

Wow, the status update with multiple layers. That's advanced placement FB right there.

Here in DC...all my friends on both sides of the aisle post links to news articles and decry the other side for being XXX. I'm probably the worst offender. Damn GOP.

Actually, several people did mention politics -- I didn't realize how many until I was scrolling through the outtakes. I specifically left them off of the list because I didn't want to muddy already complicated waters with another touchy subject.

I am intrigued by this phrase. For years scientists have hypothesized the existence of a God layer...

Don't worry. I'll deal with all of this in The Girl with the Unicorn Nose Ring.

I so want to read The Girl With the Unicorn Nose Ring, can you tell me if it is out for Kindle yet???

(Everyone knows I'm not really writing a book called The Girl With the Unicorn Nose Ring, right? We're all in on the joke?)

Let's admit it: We all want to read Facebook postings that will never happen that read along the lines of "My life has been terrible since Monica is not in my life. I am sorry we became distant. My life is nothing but a living hell without her, but I will post things and pretend to be alive, but I am dead every day that Monica is no longer in my life." Now, seriously, isn't that everyone is secretly hoping to read on Facebook?

No! Only terrible people want to read anything resembling that on Facebook.

I too am of the age where a lot of my FB friends are having babies, and the worst status updates I ever had to endure were related to a friend's miscarriage of twins. It was devastating, but she took pictures of the (deceased) babies and made them her profile picture. Last year, she changed her profile picture to that one on the anniversary of the miscarriage. I had to defriend her.

This is too sad for words, all of it. I feel horrible for this woman, and frankly, pity her stunned and helpless friends, too.

How pathetic am I? I went to check how many copies of my book have sold, and I realize I don't even have an agent, or a book published.

Might I suggest a title for you? It involves unicorns and nose rings.

I do those from time to time (very rarely). when i do i think: hmmm...but then I figure, if someone cares enough to listen to the story, I'll type it, otherwise, eh, no one cares. and sometimes someone says something and sometimes they don't - and whatever, is my answer. i'm the same way when someone posts something like that - sometimes I take the bait and sometimes i don't - it just depends on my mood. in the end, if someone ONLY updated like that, then i might unfriend them, but otherwise, I just let it roll off.

Everyone is getting very introspective here, toward the end of the chat. It's like when the party is winding down and almost everyone has gone.

How best do I brag on Facebook that Cupcake took my question?!?!?!?

You can try to turn that into a brag. I think everyone will just think it's lame.

Who are the ladies eating ice cream?

The lady on the right is my grandmother. The lady on the left is my grandfather. (He was a slight, fairly delicate man).

Am I allowed to post a link to this very chat on my Facebook? My only hope is that one of the braggy people will click it and see the error of their ways...

I've already posted a link, and written, essentially, "Come to this awesome chat that I host." How's that for a brag?

Nearly 100 of us can say the same thing.

(You noticed! Guys, I'm approaching 100 questions, something we have never done in the history of this chat, because usually my fingers get too tired. Once I saw how close we were, I decided to hang around so that we could all humbly brag about this minute accomplishment).

And FWIW, there were about 100 more questions I just couldn't get to at all. Everyone was chatty and smart today.

The worst offender remained B (war and Peace). The least offensive also stayed at Winning Race and Excited Book Release. I also found it interesting that the most varied responses were about the Perefct Mate. But everyone agreed on War and Peace and Won the Race. There you go. Do you want margins of error?

Stupendous, volunteer statistician! You have performed your job admirably.

We've gone over, and the madness must stop. Thanks to everyone for playing. I hope that the new people who stopped in this week will come back again next. We're here every Wednesday at 2 (And be "we," I mean "me," and at least a couple other regulars), and it's almost always fun.

In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

Read the The Web Hostess Archive .
Recent Chats
  • Next: