Facebook Users: Where Do You Belong?

It has been four years since I joined the 1.19 billion Facebook users. Throughout this period, I have observed very distinct behavior patterns of people who regularly use Facebook. After much rumination, sleepless nights, and obsessive floor pacing (well, not really), I categorized them into the following groups:

Braggy: For some, Facebook is a platform for bragging. These boasting comments are usually veiled as status updates.

Just threw together a Herb Crusted Beef Rib Roast with Pinot Noir Jus before taking little Kylie to oboe lessons.

Finished running 16.2 miles in 11 minutes. Who wants to join me tomorrow?

Sometimes, Braggy posts are written in a tired voice, as though being wonderful is exhausting.

While it’s hard getting up at 2 a.m. to squeeze in my four-hour total body workout, followed by preparing breakfast for the family, I know staying healthy for my family is important.

Last night James spelled Lieutenant! And he’s only 22 months old! I knew not allowing him to watch TV would reap loads of benefits. While it can be exhausting never having a break for myself, look at the fruit of my labor.

Literal Status Updates: Literal Status Updates give you a play-by-play account of the Facebook user’s day: what they are currently doing, what they are thinking, what’s on their agenda for the day. Literal Status Update Facebook users take the what’s on your mind? or what’s your status? question from Facebook quite literally. Literal Status Updates can include comments on ball games and TV shows the Facebook user is watching as they write their post.

At the grocery store.

C’mon Eli! Another interception?!

Time for lunch.

Making steak and potatoes for dinner. (With a glass of wine, of course. LOL!)

A sub-category of Literal Status Updates are Weather Posts – for those of us who live in windowless houses.

Snow!

Three inches so far and it’s still snowing.

19 degrees out! Brrrr!

Frequent Complaining Posts: Now, we are all prone to complain. Life ain’t easy, and commiseration can be soothing. The once-in-a-while-grumble is NOT included in the Frequent Complaining Posts category. It’s the daily gripe that falls into this group. Frequent Complaining Posts are similar to Literal Status Updates except they have a negative ring to them. For some people, Facebook is their way to share every sniffle and cough, every slight injustice that crosses their path. What’s most intriguing about the Frequent Complaining Posts is how these Facebook users are so eager to complain that they stop whatever they are doing to post  – whether it is while driving, or when they’re at work.

Another cold! Just when I was starting to feel better.

Grocery store is out of my favorite peanut butter. Are you kidding me?

Another sleepless night.

The Suspenseful Posts: These statuses leave you hanging. They are meant to make you wonder what on earth has happened, and are probably intended to have you checking back for updates.

So excited!

Can’t stop crying.

Best day EVER!

My poor hubby!

Sometimes the follow-up information to The Suspenseful Post is still very vague, especially when the original post was one of concern. While we understand privacy, it’s perplexing why the Facebook user who writes The Suspenseful Post in the first place would then keep the situation secretive. So you want us to know that you can’t stop crying, but you don’t want us to know why? Or What happened to your husband? What are we supposed to do with this information?

Political Posts: Are just that: statements about a political topic – which usually garners several supportive comments and “likes” as well as outraged responses. Things never end well, and opinions are rarely altered. De-friending over Political Posts is not uncommonSome Facebook users are regular Political Posters, while others stay away from the topics entirely – playing Switzerland in a messy war zone.

The Regular Rants: Just as with complaining, we all have a tendency to rant about a situation. The Regular Rants are akin to Frequent Complaining Posts, but with more of an edge. In these posts, however, the Facebook user’s anger seeps through their words. Regular Rants typically include lots of capital letters and exclamation points.

Could the guy driving in front of me go any slower? People older than 80 SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO DRIVE.

[insert name] is an idiot and I don’t know how ANYONE could be STUPID enough to vote for him!!

I can’t believe I went to college for THIS! What WAS I THINKING?

The Obsessive Topic: These Facebook users have a specific interest, issue, or cause that consumes them. Examples include a hobby, animal welfare, diet, a particular movement (such as gun rights or immigration reform), their pet, or a current event. When is it considered an Obsessive Topic? When the Facebook user posts at least once a day, every day about said topic. Pictures and links to unprofessional websites are common, as are the Facebook user “liking” their own status.

While every Facebook user has the tendency to dip their toes into each of these categories, others jump in cannonball style. Facebook seems to understand this, and has created a function that allows users to hide status updates from those habitual Political Posters, Regular Ranters and Frequent Complainers.

In spite of these behavior patterns, there are still Wonderful Posts – the comedic ones that make you burst out laughing, the posts with the pictures of your friends’ kids in silly Halloween costumes, the updates on ill friends, or the pictures of exotic vacations you someday hope to go on yourself. The Wonderful Posts are why I remain on Facebook, even though my kids watch television, I don’t cook Herb Crusted Beef Rib Roast with Pinot Noir Jus, and I could care less what Eli Manning is doing right this very minute.

Is Age Just A Number?

Recently, I overheard a woman say she was too old to have long hair.

“At a certain age,” the woman declared, “ponytails and braids just start to look foolish.”

As I pondered her statement, I was reminded of the time my grandmother said that old women shouldn’t wear sleeveless tops. (Conversely, my other grandmother wore pink baseball caps with matching pink shoelaces well into her 60s.)

This brought a question to mind: when is someone officially old? Is a 76 year old woman who bicycles 3 miles a day, every day, old? Or is it the woman who is also 76 but uses a walker and reeks of White Diamonds perfume?

I lost sleep. I paced the floors. I forgot several items on my shopping list because I kept repeating the thought, “When is old, old?” I studied everyone. I took notes. I visited random nursing homes and stuck my head into the rooms before visiting a local American Legion to watch a Bingo game in progress. I then sat and worked late into the night –  by candlelight. I compared my findings. I chewed through three pencils and drank two cups of coffee until, at last, I had answered the question to my satisfaction.

“I have done it,” I whispered to a silent house, “I now know when someone is truly old.”

Actually, I didn’t do any of the above. I simply thought about the question as I washed breakfast dishes one morning. But I was – among the suds and aroma of lemon scented dish soap – able to devise a “You Know You’re Old” list.

The Underground Writer’s “You Know You’re Old When …” Checklist*

If you do five or more of the following, you are officially old.

  • There is a tissue box in the rear window of your car.
  • A flower is taped to your car’s antenna. 
  • You use the term “slacks” for pants, and wear said slacks when you exercise.
  • Everything costs too much, and you have difficulty making a purchase without comparing the cost of the item to what it used to cost “back in the day.”
  • You’re astonished that an adult could be born as recently as the 1980s.
  • Even if your financial situation does not require you to use the Early Bird Specials at restaurants, you always do so out of principle.
  • You are simply appalled by the younger generation: their clothes, music, behavior, and/or electronics. You also take issue with what people are naming their children nowadays. Names such as Kaden, Brooklyn, and Jayden are not real names in your mind.
  • If you are female, you wear nylons all of the time – even with “slacks.” 
  • You find electronics mind boggling. Just as you finally figured out how to set the time on your DVD player, your younger friend questions why you even have a DVD player since they will soon be obsolete.
  • Your car is either large (such as a Lincoln Town car) or small (such as a Toyota Corolla). Mid-size cars, such as Honda Accords, are never considered.
  • Your reason for visiting the mall is to walk for exercise, and not to shop.
  • While sleeping at night is nearly impossible, you find yourself randomly falling asleep throughout the day. 

*This checklist has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, or any other professional organization for that matter. This list it not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent aging*

Want To Lose Weight? Try Obesity Soap And Eating Cabbage

We’ve all been there: spending too much money for some gadget that promises to tone our thighs, shrink our bellies, or firm our arms. Many of us truly believe that those extra holiday pounds are going to be shed in time for the beach with the help of the newest diet featured in Shape magazine.

Clearly, America has an obsession with weight. There is a menagerie of weight loss pills, innovative exercise machines, different types of weight loss surgeries, and bizarre diets. The media is saturated with scary statistics on obesity, and it seems that you can’t pick up a magazine without there being at least one article on someone who has lost an astounding amount of weight with before and after pictures. Snuggled in-between these articles are advertisements featuring gaunt women who all have that same aloof expression.

It’s easy to assume that America’s love affair with diets and weight loss is a more recent phenomenon – but a relatively brief Internet search proved otherwise. Weight loss gimmicks and fad diets have been around since the beginning of the 20th century. Some of the products people used in the early 1900s to shave off those extra pounds included an Obesity Soap that was supposed to “wash away” excess fat (imagine what that would do to your shower drain), and Bile Beans that were nothing more than laxatives.

The Graybar Stimulator entered the scene in 1920 and would cost you $60. No small change for a machine where you strapped  a leather belt around your hips and it jiggled the pounds away (which it didn’t). It appears most exercise machines at that time involved vibration because in 1930 the Battle Creek Health Builder was a popular choice. With this bizarre contraption, the victim sat in a saddle and the fat was “shaken” off (it wasn’t). Just as so many people today have a room in their house devoted to exercise equipment they rarely use, I am assuming back in the 1930s people had a room specifically for their Graybar Stimulator and Battle Creek Health Builder.

Radical diets are also not new to the weight loss scene. In fact, there have been so many rather alarming weight loss regimes that I was forced to shorten the list. Below are some of the fad diets that are downright weird.

In 1903, a diet called Fletcherizing, or “the chewing diet”, became quite popular. Fletcherizing involved chewing food 32 times – one chew for each tooth. While it created rather quiet dinner parties and tired jaws, Fletcherizing did not provide the weight loss so desired and the diet eventually lost its appeal.

The Cigarette Diet, endorsed by none other than Lucky Strike Cigarettes, became the rage in 1925. With this diet, people were told to reach for a cigarette instead of food when hungry. Not only was a cigarette a substitute for putting food in the mouth when you wanted to eat, the nicotine was also touted as being appetite suppressing. Thus, the Cigarette Diet killed two birds with one stone (while giving the dieter a surprise diagnosis of lung cancer later on in life).

Between the years 1930-1950 the Grapefruit Diet made its debut. With this citrus driven diet, people attempted to shed pounds – and keep them off – by consuming grapefruit with every meal. It was believed that grapefruit had a fat-burning property and by eating them with other foods, the grapefruit would cancel out the caloric intake of whatever else you ingested. Although this theory has been continually debunked, other variations of the Grapefruit Diet still exist today.

Swallowing a tapeworm was also experimented with as a way to control weight. The Tapeworm Diet was rumored as being a popular method in losing weight during the 1950s. For those who weren’t keen on the idea of swallowing a parasite and having it grow up to 25 feet long in their intestines, dieters could also try the Cabbage Soup Diet. Similar to the Grapefruit Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet required dieters to eat Cabbage Soup with every meal.

Jumping ahead to the 1990s, quick weight loss schemes did not lessen in number or oddity. Who remembers the 1996 diet of eating food based on your blood type? Or the low carb craze of the Atkins Diet and South Beach Diet? Around 1998, juicing machines flew off the shelves in droves as people tried the Juice, Fasting and Detoxification Diet. When drinking meals lost its appeal, dieters then tried munching on uncooked foods with the Raw Food Diet of 2000. Dieters attempted liquid diets a second time with the more recently popular Master Cleanse (also known as the Lemonade Diet). With this extreme diet, people drink nothing more than a concoction consisting of hot water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for 10 days.

It is easy to poke fun at the 13th century explorer, Ponce de Leon, who discovered Florida in his quest for the fountain of youth. A fountain that would keep you young! How ridiculous. Now, if you’ll just excuse me. I need to eat my allotted 17 pickles as part of the Pickle Diet. (Fooled you, didn’t I?)