Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three Interesting Trends in Facebook Postings

Over the last, I would say, two years I've noted a marked change in the kinds of individual postings I typically see on my Facebook page and profile. I'm not talking posts from businesses, well-known bloggers, or celebrities; I'm talking purely about posts from everyday people.

My follower list is quite varied but consists primarily of entry-level through graduate-level healthcare faculty, students, and practitioners. It's not a universal sampling, for sure, but the consistency of the changes and the many other Facebook profiles I visit everyday lead me to think the changes are probably more widespread than just on my twiddly little accounts.

I used to see many more posts about news-related events, but now I'm seeing posts that fall into one of three categories. Let's take them one at a time.

Trend #1: More fractional updates

Mostly I see what I'm going to call fractional updates, little details about what someone is doing or thinking about at that moment. I'm talking about these kinds of posts (actual posts taken from my profile):

  • "I feel so blah"

  • "well we have moved on from THAT movie to the Wiggles..Idk which is worse! gonna go scrub the carpets, that 'grounds guy' got some great stuff and it got out some mystery stains...but it smells really bad"

  • "I got this at an estate sale this past weekend. It's a French Provincial Chiffarobe. Love it!"

Fractional updates were once Twitter's domain, not Facebook's. But I'm seeing a reversal of that trend, where Facebook has become the preferred means of distributing information about the details of everyday life.

Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of post, they serve a distinct purpose for the poster and, sometimes, I think, for the postee. (I'm not sure those are actual terms, but I think you get the idea.)

QUERY: Is Facebook the best place for fractional updates? Are there too many of these tidbits showing up on your wall?

Trend #2: More spiritual declarations

I'm seeing many more wall posts lately from people declaring their love of God, asking for prayers for friends or loved ones, or reciting psalms or other religious quotations. Examples include:

  • "I thank god everyday for all the wonderful people that I have In my life ! God is good"

  • "fear not my child I'm with you always I feel every pain and every tear I see I know how to care for what belongs to me ~ God"

  • "I personally believe in Jesus Christ. One Facebooker has challenged all believers to put this on their wall. The bible says, if you deny Me in front of your peers, I will deny you in front of My Father. This is a simple test. If you are not afraid to show it, re-post this. I'm proud I did."

Not a thing wrong with these kinds of posts either, but it seems more and more people are declaring their spiritual inclincations [sic] more outwardly than ever. I'm not entirely sure Facebook is the best medium for them, but it's being used that way nonetheless.

QUERY: What do you think about using Facebook for spiritual declarations?

Trend #3: More private messages

More and more I see Facebook posts, open to the world, that really should be messages. I find this trend rather alarming. People have become so comfortable posting to Facebook from wherever they are that they seem to have forgotten that everyone sees wall posts, not just a single, targeted person.

Here are some actual posts from my wall that fall into the Private Message category:

  • "NAME, you have been in my thoughts all week, but most especially this hardest of days for you. For whatever small measure of comfort this can bring you, please know that we love you, and treasure you as a member of our family."

  • "Ok, so wanna meet up this week? Or next weekend? Let me know what days are good for you. I can either visit you or you can visit me :D"

  • "NAME, I have a doctor's appointment in the hospital tonight at 8. Is it okay to stop by for a couple minutes? I have some books for you. :)"
This is the most interesting trend, and to me it's a bit disturbing. First, I'm guessing that many people don't know that if they post something on someone else's wall, that any mutual friends can also see the posting. Second, it strikes me that people have (unknowingly?) expanded their comfort zone to include a medium open to, essentially, the world, and I'm not at all sure that's a good thing.

QUERY: Have people become so comfortable with Facebook that they don't even notice that they're posting such messages on their wall for everyone to see? Or do they not care?

I would truly love your thoughts on these observations and queries, so comment away!