17 December 2007 | Tanya Goodin

facebook loses its poetry?

After nearly a year of getting my head around the strictures of the passive voice, facebook last week dropped the ‘is’ on its status updates and I have to say I am strangely missing it.

Whilst faintly annoying to have to contort what you want to say into the straightjacket of the format I found myself enjoying finding ways to be clever within the limitations. I’ve always thought limitations of any sort encourage creativity which the new rather bland ‘anything goes’ status update just doesn’t.

Of course the whole art of the facebook status update has become just that, an art, and there was always a lot of pressure to come up with something witty and original and see how many responses you elicited.

For the non-facebook user, there are seven kinds of status updates:

1. The ‘too much information’ type where the minutiae of a, frankly not very interesting, life is laid bare for the yawns of all “tanya is eating a prawn sandwich”, “tanya is making a dentist’s appointment” etc etc. Do we care?

2. The “I’m so craaaazy I get lashed every night and still get up in time for work” type, “tanya is nursing the mother of all hangovers” , “tanya is now regretting her 15th tequila last night” blah blah blah. Closely related of course is the “I’m so sexy I’m pulling every night” update as in “tanya is filthy gorgeous” “tanya is saucier than a direct hit on a Heinz factory”. Hmm, protesting too much?

3. The blatant self publicist (my personal per peeve) “tanya is nervously awaiting the first night of her play tomorrow night at the Old Vic” or “tanya is anxious about her new book’s review (‘my life on facebook’ £9.99 from Amazon). No, you’re not you just want us all to know about it so we can feel inadequate – thanks.

4. The status update through song lyrics. Have to admit I’m rather guilty of falling back on this one when my mind goes blank “tanya is buying a stairway to heaven”, “tanya is something kinda ooooh”. Only problem with this one is it does rather lay bare your poor taste in music…

5. The status update as thinly-veiled fishing for compliments. I’ve scored particular success with this one I have to smugly confess. “tanya is contemplating a facelift” garnered the most responses of any status update I’ve ever had (who’s counting?) with pleasing responses of along the lines of “you don’t need one”, ‘Nooooooo” etc etc. Thanks everyone who took the time to reply :).

6. The enigmatic update which begs a question “tanya is carefully negotiating”, “tanya is seen”, “tanya is planning her next move”. Again, like the ‘my life is so crazy’ type this is designed to show you off as mysterious and intriguing and with hidden depths unlike the rest of us shallower individuals.

7. The update as scoring points/playing out your personal relationship in the public eye “tanya is wishing that a certain person understood how rude it is not to return phone calls promptly”, “tanya is still peeved about the lack of flowers on her birthday”. Really this one is far too much information like spending an evening with a bickering couple – bothered?

So, what will the new unconfined status update format bring? More of the same or an unleashing of hitherto unknown depths of creativity and poetry? I’m hoping for the latter but in the meantime I’ve joined the group “Bring back the ‘is’ on facebook”.

Happy updating!

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar

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