One of my morning rituals, among many, is checking out my friends’ Facebook status. For someone like me who has friends all over the world, Facebook gives a simple outlet to keep in touch with everybody without spending too much money for texting and SMS-ing, or wasting too much time in chatting (time difference makes it difficult anyway) on the computer.
However, because this social network platform is a reflection of everybody’s mundane life, I sometimes would have to read a status like this:
Theo is “stuck in traffic. GBU“.
GBU, as you know, stands for God Bless You, and although I don’t see the relation between spending hours fidgeting and wondering when the traffic would be clear and blessing everyone, it seems like the status is significant enough to get “GBU too” replies from others.
There are also some people who tend to over share. These people mostly talk to someone or talk about someone specifically, but put it on their facebook status so the rest of the world know about it. So often I’d read something like:
Theresa is “thankful for the 3.0 carat VVS1 pear-shaped diamond ring given by wonderful hunnybunny on our anniversary dinner in Venice. I love you very much. Please pray that our love will last forever.”
Brad is “late again, stuck in traffic because it’s raining here. Susy darling please don’t forget to have your dinner, don’t wait up because I don’t want you to get headache if you eat too late. Love to you and to our little angel“.
It seems I am the only who’s confused whether these people talk about themselves, talk to their spouses, talk to their friends, or all of them altogether (Did Theresa asked her husband or us to pray for her relationship?). And like this over PDA (public display affection) isn’t enough, we would have to read their spouses’ replies who normally would just repeat whatever they say like “I love you too“, “I’ll be waiting for you to come home, drive save honey“, or, worse, choose to ‘like‘ the status (it’s not as sad as people who like their own status, but close enough).
However, there’s a growing trend of people who seem to intentionally keep their status updates mysterious enough to keep others on their toes waiting for more explanation. It’s an act of posting an unclear status that prompts, even dares, friends to ask you more.
Mark “is wondering if it is all worth it“.
Tom “decides to let go“.
Dorothy “tries to be calm and hope the storm will pass“.
Leila “should have not done it, now feels really guilty“.
And my favourite of all time:
Diana is .
Those statuses will trigger tens of reactions from sort of concerned friends: “What’s wrong?“, “Are you ok babes?“, “What do you mean, was it so-so we talked about last week? (adding the mystery plus showing off to other friends that they know more)“, or “sending thousands of love that you will be alright“, and so on. All the time, the rest of their friends have absolutely no idea what these bunch of people were talking about!
This is what is called ‘vaguebooking.’ Urban dictionary states that vaguebooking is “An intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to ask what’s going on, or is possibly a cry for help“. Or attention. Or both.
According to National Post, vaguebooking’s core concept lies within the status writer’s ability to bait its readers while still remaining elusive. It is always confessional, provocative and indeterminably sly. Bob was “wrong to do that”. Jane “should have handled that better”. These phrases are consistently open-ended but hint at something more just below their surface. For example, Stephanie is “late…and worried”, could simply mean that Stephanie is late for school or work. If accompanied by inside knowledge about Stephanie’s sex life, though, it could imply something much more pressing.
Specificity is forbidden in vaguebooking, and one certain rule is never mentioning anyone by name. However, the use of Vaguebooking to message other (often unwilling) parties is common practice, whether the person is directly mentioned or not. Therefore the posting Liz shouldn’t have slept over last night holds special meaning to someone out there, while the rest of us get to indulge in asking questions about where Liz slept (or who she slept with) last night. Occasionally Vaguebookers will also mention a person in terms of their role, often as a cowardly way of confronting them. Trudy wishes “her boss hadn’t done that”. Steve “isn’t sure about his wife”.
A blogger, Jen, argues that the true vaguebookers are those that slide down the slippery slope…it starts with one ambigous post….all your “friends” ask what’s going on…you get a rush from the attention….you decide to keep them wanting more (see examples above)…then week after week…sometimes day after day or hour after hour you vaguebook. It’s like a drug. And you can’t stop it.
Then again, maybe vaguebooking is much simpler then all of this. Perhaps, in this online world where everyone has an immediate voice, a problem has arisen: no one is listening. As a result, people have started to yearn for the dialogue lacking in our one-way communication culture. Maybe people aren’t vaguebooking for attention, but are simply doing it to elicit a response. Maybe Facebook, Twitter, and all the other social sites have in fact painted us into a lonely corner and this is the social butterfly’s way of inducing good old fashioned conversation in a new world format.
To me personally, unless I know the person very well and such a comment is very much out of character, I will ignore updates like these. What’s the point of asking if they’re ok only to get an answer like “I don’t want to talk about it“. Well, if you don’t want to talk about it, don’t put it up on your status.