Most of you aren’t very creative when it comes to updating your status. I see some genuine attempts at being funny, clever, or a combination of the two. Many, I believe, could use a little help. The following are some of the most overused phrases (cliches we’ll call them) that creep into your status updates like mold in a bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Also, I just threw away a bag of moldy sharp cheddar cheese.

The first step in being more creative within the confines of social media is to stop saying exactly what every one else is saying. Let’s focus today on how you begin a status update (or rather, how you should stop beginning):

#1. “You know…”   as in   “You know, elephants aren’t really afraid of mice.”

The problem with “you know” is that you only use it when there is an underlying assumption that the person in fact doesn’t know and they are about to receive new information. If you know they don’t know then there’s no reason to start that way. Another variation is if you start with “Did you know…” You aren’t really asking them if they know, you are only getting them ready for your information. If they did know then the whole thing is disappointing since you don’t get the pleasure of giving new info and they don’t get to hear something new despite the fact that you set them up for it. This is over used to the point where it doesn’t really mean anything at all. “You know…”, “didn’t you know…”, “did you know…”, “you know what…”.   don’t start your status updates this way.

#2. “<number> <span of time> ago today…”   as in  “5 years ago today, I married my beautiful hamster.”

4 years and 9 months ago, she died...

I die a little inside when I see yet another status update remembering a day/event/life using these same tired words. Not every fairy tale must begin with “Once upon a time.” This is how I know you aren’t creative. I see this kind of thing almost daily on Facebook. Try mixing it up a little. Tell a story about that day you are remembering. Or start with a lovely description of the person you are so fond of. Using the same words that everyone else is using to remember something or someone is like buying the most popular card at the Hallmark store. Sure, it might be a good card but it shows your thoughtfulness doesn’t go far beyond your ability to pay for paper.

#3. “I just have to say…”   as in   “I just have to say, I love watching my ten cats play with yarn.”

You don’t. You don’t have to say that. To anyone. Ever. So instead of using that expression, tell us why you are saying it now, to everyone. “I love watching my ten cats play with yarn because I only let them out of the bomb shelter once a month.” See? Isn’t that much more fun?!

The thing about Facebook is that you don’t have to say any of it. So instead of lying (if we’re being literal) or regurgitating a worn-out phrase, just give more details that will be inevitably more interesting. If when you include the details, find that it isn’t more interesting then I believe you’ve found yourself in a situation that you certainly don’t “just have to say” anything at all.

#3. “Dear…”   as in  “Dear guy who just robbed my bank. Not cool man. You made me late to my intramural softball game.”

Wait till he gets a load of THIS status!

I’m sure this used to be a creative way to start a status update. But just like “vote for Pedro” it’s a matter of over-exposure. The rule should be this: if you are writing a status update addressing someone specific and the person will not or cannot ever see it, stop. Backspace until it’s gone and start over. Parents are huge violators of this rule. They write status updates addressed to their children who won’t see it not only because they can’t read, but because they don’t have Facebook accounts. Who is the “dear…” part a benefit for? The friends reading the update? Hardly, as it doesn’t seem addressed to us. The person to whom it is addressed? Nope, we’ve already established they can’t or won’t read it.

So that guy who cut you off in traffic, your not-yet-born baby, the rude people at the movie theater, or the person who invented Twinkies…none of them care or know to care about your status update. I realize that nobody is supposed to take that literal, but then you should also realize that the novelty of spinning a clever, personally addressed status update stopped being clever a long time ago.

The exception is that if you are starting a “dear…” status and you are actually posting it directly to a person who will see it and read it (and perhaps respond to it), as if you were writing a letter, then it is appropriate and even little bit fancy!

#4. “Ugh…”  as in   “ugh I have biology homework again lolz”

I don’t believe any of my current readers are still in middle school, but in case a few brave younglings have ventured into the blogsphere and landed on this kind website, here’s a tip. Don’t say “ugh.” Nobody is really going to believe that anything in your life is all that difficult and you will always sound like an entitled and lazy brat.

Adults. The same goes for you. Just kidding! I know life is difficult and sometimes you just don’t have good words to express (on facebook) what you are feeling. Actually, that’s not true. You are an adult, use your words. There are great words for describing life, so don’t waste your time and ours with things like “ugh.”

#5. “repost this if…”   as in   “Every girl deserves a man who will buy her flowers. Cook dinner when she’s tired. Rub her feet even when they are glistening with sock sweat…etc…repost this as your status blah blah blah.”

If you are looking to be more creative in your status updates, then one of the first things to purge from your posting habits is re-posting this kind of stuff. If you want to say something nice about your sister, or your father, or someone living with cancer, just do it. If you are inspired by one of the “repost this” posts the creative thing to do is not repost it but craft your own rendition.

You may not say it as eloquently as the “repost” post but what you’ll be doing will come from whatever it is that’s inside you (gas?). In the end, it is always more meaningful to get someone’s own thoughts rather than a quick copy/paste. So do us all a favor and

BONUS:

#6. Don’t use the word “ironic.”   as in    “I got snow in my shoe today. How ironic.”

90% of the time when you describe something as ironic, it isn’t actually ironic. The times you get it right are probably by accident. Just forget about irony. You don’t really understand it. Things are much more likely to be coincidence, terrible, lucky, incidental, or appropriate. Just pick which of those seems best and you’re set.

So there you have it! I’m looking forward to a more creative social media experience!

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11 thoughts on “Status Updates and You

  1. Dear Tyler,

    Ugh, you know I just have to say that 5 years ago today I would have agreed with you but I don’t now. How Ironic (Re-post this if you agree).

    On a more serious note…another one that drives me up the wall is the status update checklist: As in: cleaned the house, check. Annoyed some people by posting this status, check.

    1. I tried to stay away from what I would consider annoying status updates because I’m sure I’ve written about that in the past. But I hadn’t considered “checklists.” That’s pretty funny.

      1. you say that, but as I recall you have a serious aversion to posts about kids and all I really post anymore is pictures of mine

      2. I don’t mind photos. I actually wish I could see more photos of my own niece and nephews. And the funny things kids do and say are some of the best stuff on FB. It’s when parents make their status updates a live blog of daily baby activity that is a little too much.

  2. # 2 Do you find it ironic that you used the phrase “I die a little inside” to take FBers to task for hackneyed expressions?

    1. Dang it. I thought my editing was better than this but my eyes aren’t as keen at 1am. I tried to remove all violations from my own post before hitting publish. Expressions and idioms have their place in our language, but for the sake of consistency I wanted them out.

      I appreciate the ribbing, but I suspect that you aren’t asking me if I find it ironic but simply want to point out that I didn’t follow my own advice – which falls somewhere under #1 of not asking a question to see if I know (or in this case find something ironic) but asking the question so you may point out.

      touche!

  3. Oh how I laugh!!! I am sure I have upset the FBO (probably several occasions) but i still find this blog entry hysterical !!!

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